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Absent Currie will feel heat in derby clash

League Cup finalists Ards will face derby rivals Bangor without manager Niall Currie on the bench. The Ards boss is in Australia celebrating Christmas with his in-laws, so coaches John Bailie and Jay Willis have been left in charge of first-team affairs.

And Currie may well be facing a sleepless night Down Under.

There is an 11-hour time difference between the Bangor Fuels Arena and Sydney, which means the game will kick-off at 2am Australian time.

Before departing on Wednesday, Currie said: "I'll be in touch with my coaching staff before the match and I'll keep updated with the game on social media.

"Bangor have played well and scored goals in their last couple of games, so it will be a tough match as all derby games are, but I believe we're capable of beating any team in our division," Currie added.

The Red & Blues are currently top of the Championship with eight wins from their 12 games.

A derby victory would take them four points clear of second-placed H&W Welders, but they will be without the injured duo of Aaron Boyd and John Convery.

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Fifth-placed Bangor haven't defeated Ards since 2011 and a Boxing Day win would do them the world of good, with the opportunity to move into third place, just two points shy of the leaders.

Bangor manager Garth Scates said: "Ards are top of the league for a reason. They are a very good side as they've shown in all competitions this season.

"But we look forward to the day and hopefully the match will be played in front of a big crowd."

Last year's Yuletide North Down derby attracted a crowd of over 1,000 spectators, who watched a five-goal thriller in which Ross Arthurs scored a 94th-minute winner for Ards.

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