David Cushley gets past David McAllister (©INPHO/Stephen Hamilton)
Saturday, 23 March 2019
Crusaders came from two goals down to earn a point from this visit to Ards at the Bangor Fuels Arena.
The Crues got off to a bright start with Ronan Hale seeing an effort from distance saved by Sam Johnston before Declan Caddell thought he had opened the scoring from close range only for the ball to be cleared off the line.
For Ards Darren Henderson found himself in space from ten yards but his header failed to trouble Sean O'Neill.
Play switched again with Caddell turning an effort wide after Jordan Owens had headed down into his path while, moments after that, Johnston kept out a Ronan Hale rasping drive with Jordan Owens unable to make the rebound count.
However, the deadlock was broken in Ards' favour on 25 minutes when Mark Kelly reacted quickest to the loose ball to send a deflected left-foot finish beyond O'Neill.
Crusaders wanted to get back on level terms before the break, coming close through Matthew Snoddy but Johnston proved equal to the challenge.
But Ards doubled their advantage on 54 minutes thanks to a superb free-kick from Craig McClean which sailed beyond O'Neill into the top left corner.
To their credit, the Crues kept pushing with Reece McGinley and then Jordan Owens seeing efforts just miss the target.
Stephen Baxter's side eventually clawed one back on 69 minutes when Caddell was rewarded for his earlier efforts with a point blank header from a Jordan Owens knockdown.
Caddell might have levelled soon after only to head wide but Crusaders did craft the equaliser with seven minutes remaining through Ronan Hale who unleashed an upstoppable shot from fully 25 yards past Johnston.
Then, in stoppage time, the visitors almost snatched what would have been a dramatic winner when David Cushley directed a header towards goal only for Johnston to superbly tip the ball over the bar.
Ards: Johnston, E. McAllister, Byers, Taylor, M. Kelly, D. McAllister, J. Kelly, Tommons, McClean, McAleenan, Henderson subs Cherry (replaced M. Kelly 74), McLellan (replaced Henderson 90+3), Bennett (not used), Davidson (not used), Shearer (not used), Smith (not used), McCawl (not used)
Crusaders: O'Neill, McChrystal, Ward, Caddell, Forsythe, K. Owens, J. Owens, Snoddy, McGinley, Rn. Hale, Rr. Hale subs G. Doherty (not used), Beverland (replaced Rr. Hale 82), Coates (not used), Lowry (not used), Cushley (replced Snoddy 59), Ruddy (replaced McChrystal 79), Thompson (not used)
Referee: Andrew Davey
|Darren Henderson||90 +3|
|Michael McLellan||90 +3|