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Ards see off Swifts to close in on play-off spot

Ards 1-0 Dungannon Swifts

In form: Ards goalscorer Michael McLellan
In form: Ards goalscorer Michael McLellan

By Keith Bailie

Ards put one foot in the Promotion/Relegation Play-Off on Easter Tuesday thanks to a narrow victory over Dungannon Swifts at the Bangor Fuels Arena.

Michael McLellan's eighth minute goal was enough to give Ards a 1-0 win. Paired with Newry City's 2-1 loss to Institute at Brandywell, the Red & Blues are now three points clear with just one game left to play.

The only way Ards can now be automatically relegated is if Newry beat Dungannon on Saturday and Ards lose to Warrenpoint Town, with an additional four goal swing. If Ards do hang on to 11th spot they will face either Carrick Rangers or Portadown in a play-off for Premiership survival.

Dungannon did all the early running but it was Warren Feeney's Ards who broke the deadlock in the eighth minute.

Tidy play on the right-flank led to a Gareth Tommons cross towards the back post where an unmarked Michael McLellan was on hand to fire home his third goal in as many games.

While Ards had the lead, Dungannon had the majority of possession. Despite this, they found chances hard to come.

In the 25th minute, a low inswinging Kris Lowe cross should have been converted, but nobody was able to make contact with the dangerous pass.

In the 27th minute, Sam Johnston was called into action and did well to hold onto a James Ferrin header from a corner-kick.

Teenager Rhyss Campbell was the next Swifts player to try his luck. His 30-yard shot inched just over the cross bar.

At the other end, Callum Byers headed just past the post while Tommons fired over the crossbar.

Dungannon nearly equalised through Michael Carvill's flicked header which look destined for the back of the net, only for Sam Johnston to produce a stunning low save, to ensure Ards had the lead at half-time.

The second was one-way traffic from first kick to last, with Dungannon dominating possession and territory.

Some tidy football saw Michael Carvill find space inside the Ards area, his powerful shot was pushed away by Johnston.

Deep in stoppage time Jarlath O'Rourke squandered a great chance for the visitors, firing over the crossbar from six-yards.

Ards were fortunate to win the game, but taking nothing away from Johnston and his defence. Damien McNulty, in particular, was tower of strength at the back.

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