Loughgall 2 – 0 Ards

Loughgall put in a highly impressive performance to inflict a first league defeat for title favourites Ards and extend their winning run to three games.

Matthew McMahon scored two second half goals to secure the three points to help Loughgall move up into 7th position. Also it is hugely encouraging for joint managers Stephen Uprichard and Steven Hawe that their side are the first to record a clean sheet against the usually high-scoring Newtownards side this season.

Loughgall almost opened the scoring after only eight minutes when Daniel Ryan capitalised on ex-Villagers defender Greg Hall’s mistake before attempting to round ‘keeper Ryan Brown who did well to deny with his feet.

On 13 minutes Ryan skilfully evaded an out-of-position Ards central defender Denver Gage on the left wing before setting-up Warner Mullen who shot over from just outside the penalty area.

Ards, whilst competing well, struggled for any real incisive attacking play and were limited to set-pieces throughout the first half. In injury time, Gary Warwick missed a good opportunity to test home ‘keeper Gareth Buchanan with a 25 yard free-kick as he failed to hit the target.

Loughgall continued to present a real goal-threat throughout the second period and they almost netted on 50 minutes. Ricky Copeland, who was in dominant form in central defence all game, shot from close range only for Ards’ defender John Convery to expertly block a certain goal.

The opening goal came just three minutes later when captain Steven Ferguson’s free-kick into the penalty area was controlled by Matthew McMahon before he slipped the ball beyond ‘keeper Brown for a fine individual goal.

The visitors’ best chance to equalise came in the 71st minute; Convery rose highest to head Eamon McAllister’s corner goalwards only for Loughgall right-back Wilson Taveres to clear off the goal line.

As Ards were mounting more pressure on the Loughgall defence to try and level the score they were caught out by a swift counter-attack from the Villagers. Pacy forward Ryan skilfully beat Convery to race clear before squaring for McMahon to tap home for his second goal of the game.

Ards never really threatened to get back in the game after that with their best chance falling to David McAllister who shot over when well placed.

Loughgall: Buchanan, Taveres, Mallen (Taylor 60m), Copeland, Hudson, Dallas, McMahon, Ferguson, Mullen, Ryan, Rea. Unused subs: Boyle, Henderson, Dane.

Ards: Brown, Hall, Convery, Gage, Cully, Templeton (O’Neill 45m), McDonnell, McKee, Warwick (E McAllister 65m), Arthurs, Baker (D McAllister 45m). Unused subs: Browne, Lambe.