Currie frustrated as Ards blow first shot at Irish Premiership return
Ards manager Niall Currie dismissed any suggestions that fear has crept into his team.
Ards required just a draw at Breda Park last night to secure both the Championship One title and their return to the Danske Bank Premiership. However, two early goals from Andrew Ferguson and Kyle Owens earned Knockbreda a 2-0 victory, as the Red & Blues turned in a desperately poor performance.
Ards will face Loughgall at the Bangor Fuels Arena tomorrow knowing that a draw is enough. If they lose, however, H&W Welders could leapfrog them by beating already-relegated Bangor.
A disappointed Currie said: "There won't be any fear on Saturday. I just want to see a much better performance. It looked like an end of season game, when we should have been fighting.
"We have to show desire, enthusiasm and a lot more appetite. We are lucky that we have another chance. I told the players that they can't afford to let this opportunity pass."
Ards were undone in the fifth minute when a David McMaster corner-kick caused confusion in the box. Ferguson reacted quickly, drilling the ball into the net.
The second goal was the result of another set-piece. A Stephen Cockcroft free-kick was powered home by Owens, who delivered a finish brother Jordan would have been proud of.
Ards boss Currie was frustrated by his team's inability to defend set-pieces. "If you look back on the season, set-pieces have been a problem," he said. "That's the real frustration. They never got in behind us at all, but scored from two set-pieces. We did really well at Institute last Saturday, so I picked the same team, but we didn't perform. Maybe it is a mentality thing."
This result has ramifications elsewhere. If the Welders, who do not have a Promotion Licence, leapfrog Ards tomorrow, the bottom team in the Premiership would not be automatically relegated. Instead, the basement side would play Ards in a two-legged Play-Off.
If Ards secure a point against Loughgall, the bottom Premiership side would be relegated and the club that finishes 11th would face either Institute or Larne in the Play-Off.