Gary Hamilton’s Glenavon last night stormed to the top of the Danske Bank Premiership table after this win at the Bangor Fuels Arena.
Goals from the lethal strike partnership Stephen Murray and Andrew Mitchell, inched the Lurgan Blues ahead of Linfield at the summit.
Hamilton’s troops haven’t tasted defeat since the opening day of the season and, on this form, they looked primed for a serious title assault.
It’s was Ards’ first defeat since losing to Ballymena on August 18. At no time during this low-key contest did appear capable of salvaging the situation.
Ards boss Colin Nixon made two changes from his team’s scoreless draw with Dungannon Swifts at the weekend, Jonah Mitchell and David McAllister replacing Eamon McAllister and Kyle Cherry.
Following his team’s dramatic victory over title holder Crusaders, manager Gary Hamilton made one alteration to his side, drafting in Aaron Harmon for Dylan King.
Glenavon should really have been in front on six minutes. Johnston’s clearance was returned with interest by Caolan Marron, whose booming clearing header sent Murray racing through the middle, but he could only screw his effort wide.
Ards responded in a positive manner with Josh Kelly turning and twisting on the edge of the box before miscuing his shot.
But the visitors were on front on nine minutes. Josh Daniels went down under a challenge from Kelly and referee Lee Tavinder was perfectly positioned to award the penalty.
Murray stepped up to send Johnston the wrong way – the first goal he has conceded in 475 minutes of action – 385 of those from league games.
Ards attempted to come back off the ropes with David McAllister whipping in a great ball from the left that striker Mark Kelly was only inches away from getting a head to.
Then, young Ryan Strain, on loan from Linfield, tricked and teased his way along the edge of the box before drilling in a low drive that Johnny Tuffey was relieved to see inch past the post.
Glenavon, neat and tidy on the ball, ripped the home defence open again courtesy of Aaron Harmon’s penetrating 30-yard dash, but the midfielder’s finish lacked conviction and Johnston saved easily.
After the restart, the visitors went in search of a killer second goal. Murray’s clever switch sent the impressive Mark Sykes racing into the box, but he could only blast his shot into the side netting.
The inventive Sykes, who seemed to be involved in every Glenavon raid, turned provider, crossing from the right for Daniels to blaze inches over the top with a spectacular scissors kick.
But it was game, set and match on 73 minutes. Mitchell powered his way past Taylor’s lunge and walloped an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net.
ARDS: Johnston, Kerr, Byers, Taylor, Kelly, D McAllister, Kelly (McLellan 70), Mitchell (McArthur 61), McClean, Nelson, Strain.
Unused subs: Mooney, Cherry, Tommons, McAleenan, Boyd.
GLENAVON: Tuffey, Marron, Daniels, Marshall, Mitchell, Sykes (McCloskey 77), Hall ( Muir 73), Harmon (Grace 76), Murray, Singleton, Doherty.
Unused subs: Donnelly, Larmour, Lindsay, Jenkins.
REFEREE: Lee Tavinder.