IT’S a case of erasing the memory of defeat on the opening day ahead of tomorrow night’s North Down derby clash with Bangor for Ards manager Matthew Tipton.
The Red and Blues were made to pay for a lacklustre performance as they began the season in losing fashion, but their boss has insisted the result was consigned to history after the full-time whistle. A first league meeting with Bangor since 2016 takes centre stage on Friday evening (7.45pm), as both sides bid to bounce back from respective defeats in their opening fixtures.
“We can’t rewind the clock now – what I have to make sure of is that we’re a hundred times better come Friday night,” vowed Tipton.
“We started the game as if it was a pre-season friendly and I’ll take responsibility for that. I’ve been encouraging them to play calm and controlled football and maybe I didn’t drill into them enough that the Championship’s a little bit blood and thunder as well,” he said.
“I suppose if there is one positive, it’s that I don’t think we can play as bad as that again. Coming into the game, I was struggling with selecting what I thought my best team was. I’ve now got a tough decision again, because I don’t think too many could knock on my door and ask why they aren’t in the team after that.
“To be honest, if I had paid eight quid to come and watch us [on Saturday], I don’t think I would have been too happy, certainly with the endeavour. I just don’t think we played with enough urgency. When we started doing that in the second half, I thought we looked a better side.
“It’s done with now,” insisted Tipton. “We have to reinforce what we’re good at, and that’s when we play with urgency. It took too long for us to get the bit between our teeth and by that point, it was too late.”
The Ards manager made a double signing last Thursday with the additions of striker James McLaughlin, best known for his success at Coleraine, and his son, midfielder George Tipton, who played under his father as part of Portadown’s Championship-winning side.
“I thought in the brief cameo we saw from George, albeit at three-one down, he showed what he’s going to bring to us.
“James is a proven Irish League centre-forward and is what we’ve been looking for all summer,” Tipton revealed. “You could see on Saturday with the positions he picked up and getting on the end of crosses, he was doing the right things. We’re hopeful we can get him up to speed quickly and get him into the team.”
Set to be a bumper occasion under the Clandeboye Park floodlights, Friday evening’s long-awaited showdown already feels like a big game for both those in red and blue and yellow. In the last league meeting between the north Down rivals in March 2016, Ards ran out 4-2 winners over Bangor.
Goals from Kyle Buckley, Ross Arthurs and Carl McComb saw Ards race into a 3-0 lead after 40 minutes, with Aidan Watson clawing one back for the Seasiders on the stroke of half-time. Club legend Craig McMillen extended Ards’ cushion after the break before Mark Cooling reduced the arrears for Bangor with 15 minutes remaining.