Ards sacked manager Colin Nixon after last night’s 3-0 defeat at the hands of Institute.
Nixon, who replaced Niall Currie as Ards boss in December 2016, was relieved of his duties within half an hour of the full-time whistle at the Bangor Fuels Arena.
Institute’s 3-0 win left Ards still three points adrift of the Danske Bank Premiership, with nearest rivals Newry City holding a game in hand. Ards and Newry will go head to head in Bangor next Saturday, but who will be in the Ards dugout remains a mystery.
Nixon’s assistant and brother Darren has also left the club, along with first team coach David Bryson. Coach, and former player, Dave Elebert remains at Ards.
In a statement, Ards Chairman Brian Adams said, “Ards Football Club can confirm that we have opted to part company with manager Colin Nixon.
Colin’s assistant Darren Nixon and coach David Bryson have also left the club.
“We would like to thank Colin for all his efforts over the last two years. We will confirm how we intend to proceed in due course.”
This season, Ards have struggled for form with just three wins to their name in the league. They have lost their last six league games, with Nixon’s last win as Ards manager coming on Saturday 29 December, when the Red & Blues defeated Dungannon Swifts 3-0. They were also knocked out of the Irish Cup by Championship club Carrick Rangers at the Fifth Round stage.
It’s all a far cry from Nixon’s first two seasons at Ards. In 2017, Nixon guided Ards to an eighth-placed finished which was followed by a ninth-place spot the following season.
Nixon even turned down the chance to manage his beloved Glentoran at the tail end of last season, signing a new three-year deal with Ards.
It’s likely this decision will hit Ards in the pocket.
Before learning of his dismissal, Nixon told the press, “I’ve no intention of re-signing. I’m working every day to improve this club. I’ve worked my socks off under difficult circumstances for Ards Football Club and I will continue to do so until I’m told otherwise.”
Incredibly, that was not the only controversy of the night.
Institute originally listed Thomas McBride in their team before kick-off, before removing him from their team. They intended to place McBride on the bench, but he was not listed as a substitute on the Comet system before kick-off. Institute manager brought McBride on in the second half, to replace Jamie McIntyre.
With other things on their mind, the Ards board were not prepared to comment on the matter, but Institute are confident they have done nothing wrong with manager Kevin Doherty stating, “We took Tommy off the team and put him on the bench. We told the referee and we informed Ards, so as far as we’re concerned we have done nothing wrong.”
Referee Tony Clarke also informed the media that he believed Institute had not broken any rules.
With all that going, it was easy to forget that an actual game of football took place.
Ards had much of the possession, playing some tidy football, but they struggled to create chances. When they did make chances, their forwards floundered in front of goal with Michael McLellan hitting the post and Kym Nelson missing from close range.
Dean Curry gave Stute the lead in the 32nd minute with a deflected effort after Ards failed to clear a free-kick.
With Ards on top, Jake Morrow made it 2-0 from 25-yards on the 75th minute with a stunning goal. Then, Ronan Doherty rounded off the scoring with a lovely curling goal in the 87th minute, that will rival Morrow’s goal in the NIFWA Goal of the Month competition.
Incredibly, this game is unlikely to be remembered for Morrow and Doherty’s stunning goal.
Ards: Johnston; Kerr, McNulty (59 McAleenan), Taylor, McClean (80 Bennett); E. McAllister, Cherry (77 M.Kelly), Tommons, J. Kelly, Nelson; McLellan
Subs: Mooney, Bennett, Evans, McCawl, McAleenan, M. Kelly, D. McAllister
Institute: Gallagher; Morrow, McLaughlin, D. Curry, Jarvis (82 McBride); Dunne, Doherty, Wilson (67 Morrow), McIntyre; Brown (72 Moorehead), McCready
Subs: Kelly, S. Curry, Moorehead, Morrow, Smith