SATURDAY’S match against Queen’s University is a must-win for under fire Ards boss John Bailie.
On Saturday, out-of-form Ards travel to The Dub keen to complete a hat-trick of victories over the Students, who lost at Clandeboye Park (3-0 and 2-0) in both August and October. While Peter Thompson’s team remain rooted to the bottom of the table, in recent weeks they have enjoyed a mini-revival with wins over Knockbreda and Newington.
Last Saturday, they stunned Harland and Wolff Welders 2-1 at Blanchflower Park to make it three wins in a row. By contrast, Ards have lost their last three fixtures. Bailie said: “With our recent form, Queen’s will be targeting this game for three points. “Yes, they are bottom of the league, and we have beaten them twice this season, but they’re not a poor team. If we have anyone in our changing room that thinks we just need to show up on Saturday to win, they’re in for a surprise. “In both our victories over them, it was tight for the first hour. So, I’m expecting another tight game. “My hope for Saturday is the players produce the quality I know they have. That’s our main disappointment. The players have not shown the quality we know they possess for a few months.” Last Friday, Ards slumped to their ninth league defeat of the season when a Ruairi McDonald goal gave Annagh United a 1-0 win at Clandeboye Park.
Despite the result, Bailie was pleased with aspects of his team’s performance. “It was a close game. I didn’t think we were brilliant, but I think we deserved something from the game. “Games are decided by fine margins, and at the moment everything is going against us. We had a shot that deflected just past the post, whereas their deflected shot looped into the net. “We defended a lot better than we have in the last few games and I was pleased with the effort and the endeavour the boys showed. I know people will say you shouldn’t rely on luck, but sometimes you need that wee bit of luck. We’re not getting it at the moment.” However, Bailie accepted that his team did not create enough chances during the 1-0 defeat. Ards mustered just three shots on target in 90 minutes. He said: “I don’t think we deserved to lose the game, but we didn’t ask enough questions of the Annagh goalkeeper and his back four. But the same could be said of Annagh. The two sides cancelled each other out, and a deflected goal settled the game. “I know people will look at it and say, ‘it’s only Annagh United’ but Annagh United are now one of the best teams in this division. They work hard, and they have great experience in the middle of the park. “I’m not pleased with the result, but it was a lot better than our previous few performances. But we must do better on the ball.”
Bailie was keen to praise new signings Jack Lemoignan and Benny Igiehon. Goalkeeper Lemoignan – signed on loan from Derry City – made two good second half saves to keep his team in the game. Striker Igiehon – who completed his move from Dergview last Thursday – gave Ards a physical presence in attack. Bailie said: “Jack made a couple of good saves and looked comfortable under cross balls. He’s a competent goalkeeper and a confident young lad. He can be pleased with his performance. “Only a great save stopped Benny from scoring a late equaliser. He’s a nuisance to play against. We will look to work with him in training, so we can get the best out of him. “I think those two, plus Gary Donnelly and Joe Tully will be assets for this club. “We may have to do some more work in the window because TJ Murray is out for a long time, so we’re light in the centre of midfield.” While Murray is sidelined until March with a broken cheekbone, Eamon Scannell is expected to return from illness for Saturday’s game in south Belfast. The attacking midfielder scored twice against the Students in October.
Travel News The PASC bus will leave the Ards FC Sports Club at 1pm on Saturday for a 2pm kick-off. The game will kick-off at 2pm, as The Dub’s football pitch does not have floodlights.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
16/10/21 Championship – Ards 2 Queen’s 0 (Scannell 2)
20/8/21 Championship – Ards 3 Queen’s 0 (Reynolds, Jallow, Ferrin)
29/2/20 Championship – Queen’s 1 Ards 2 (E. McAllister 2)
2/11/19 Championship – Queen’s 3 Ards 1 (Wilson)
5/10/19 Championship – Ards 3 Queen’s 2 (Wilson 2, Harris)