ARDS 1 GLENAVON 0
Ards secured their place in next season’s Danske Bank Premiership thanks to an injury time winner from Michael Ruddy at the Bangor Fuels Arena.
Ruddy saw his 90th-minute spot-kick saved by Glenavon goalkeeper James Taylor, but he reacted quickly to fire home the rebound. The win gave Ards have a 15 point lead over Carrick Rangers and the play-off spot, with unassessable goal difference.
Ards’ victory over Glenavon was perhaps no surprise. Lurgan Blues made six changes from last week’s team, with both-eyes firmly set on next Saturday’s Irish Cup semi-final against Coleraine.
The first half of the match was unremarkable, other than the unusual decision to stop the game after five minutes so the players and supporters could applaud Derry City captain Ryan McBride, who passed away on Sunday.
The minute of applause started in the fifth minute when Ards goalkeeper Aaron Hogg claimed the ball, with the ball resting at his feet as the players stood stationary on the pitch, as agreed by both teams before the game.
The Lurgan Blues rattled the Ards crossbar in the 65th minute when Mark Patton thundered a header off the crossbar, with Aaron Hogg beaten. The Ards defence reacted quickly to clear the danger.
In the 90th minute, a Gareth Tommons cross was batted away by the hand of Kris Lindsay leaving Lee Tavinder with no choice to point to the spot. Michael Ruddy stepped up to the mark only to see his penalty saved by the alert Taylor. Ruddy reacted quickly to steer the rebound home, to score his 10th goal of the season.
The 1-0 win gave Ards a 15 point advantage over 11th placed side Carrick Rangers, with five games left to play. With Ards holding a 25 goal advantage over Carrick, it’s fair to say the Red & Blues are safe from relegation.
Ards: Hogg; Hall, Friars, Byers, Ruddy; Tommons, Cherry (68 McCullough), Doherty, McMillen; Liggett (79 McComb), Keke (90 Arthurs)
Subs: S.McMullan, Hughes
Glenavon: Taylor; Patton, Kelly, Lindsay, Neill; McGrory, Kilmartin, Doyle, Turner (26 Norton); Gray (82 Hamilton), Renato (63 Jenkins)
Subs: Young, O’Mahony
Ref: Lee Tavinder