Ards’ assault on the Ladbrokes.com IFA Championship couldn’t have got off to a worse start.
The Co Down club were rocked by an internal dispute that saw manager Tommy Kincaid walk out less than 48 hours before their opening league game against Ballymoney United.
Assistant manager Justin McBride was put in charge in a caretaker capacity, with the club’s board set for crisis talks tonight.
On the pitch Ards strolled to a 3-0 half-time lead through goals from James Wright, Stephen Doyle and Darren Fitzgerald, but they then capitulated in the second-half and United secured a point through one from Randall Reid and a Lee McClelland brace.
Champions Loughgall kicked off with an impressive 4-0 victory over Ballyclare Comrades, but relegated Institute started poorly with a 3-0 defeat at Bangor.
It was a good day for the newly promoted clubs as Dergview beat Larne 1-0 and H&W Welders won 3-1 at Banbridge. Carrick Rangers got a 1-1 draw with hotly tipped Limavady and Glebe Rangers defeated Ballinamallard United 1-0.
In the Championship Two, Queen’s were magnificent in their 7-0 win over Lurgan Celtic, Dundela defeated Armagh 4-1, Coagh beat PSNI 2-1, Knockbreda were 2-1 victors over Portstewart and Annagh lost 2-0 to Wakehurst.
Elsewhere, Chimney Corner went down 4-1 to Tobermore, Warrenpoint Town beat Sport & Leisure Swifts 4-1, while Moyola Park kicked off the season on Friday night with a 2-1 win over Killymoon Rangers.