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Ards target reversal of fortunes on new pitch

The last time Ards ran out at Clandeboye Park, they were greeted with banners as their loyal support packed into the ground to see Niall Currie's men lift the Belfast Telegraph Championship title and celebrate their promotion to the Premiership.

Since then, a lot has changed. After four months of renovation work, Clandeboye Park now has a new synthetic pitch, while Ards are rock bottom of the Premiership, having lost nine of their opening 11 top flight fixtures.

The club are hoping a return to Bangor – just four miles from Newtownards – will bring give the club the shot in the arm they desperately need. Kids under the age of 12, can gain free access to tomorrow's Portadown game if accompanied an adult. Club officials are confident they can double their Dixon Park attendances.

The man charged with leading a revival is manager Niall Currie.

He said: "The most important people at this club are the supporters, so I'm sure Saturday will be a great day for them. We're hoping for a bumper crowd – the more support we can get behind us, the better for the team."

Clandeboye Park's artificial surface will be the Premiership's third synthetic pitch, but Currie is confident his team can adapt.

"We haven't even seen Bangor's new pitch yet, so it will be as strange to us as it is to Portadown.

"But you can say what you want about 3G surfaces, a football pitch is a football pitch. If you can run on it and the ball can bounce on it, then you can play football on it.

"We did well at Ballyclare, winning two games there, but now we've got to adapt to this new surface and we will quickly.

"Ultimately, our players who are comfortable in possession and good passers of the ball have to come into the game."

Ards have had an number of injuries in recent weeks, with eight players missing from their 4-2 defeat at the hands of Crusaders last Saturday. Currie hopes to welcome back diminutive forward Neil Dougan, while defender David Armstrong is likely to be out for the foreseeable future.

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