Ardstraw bounce back to stay in the hunt
Thursday, 9 February 2017
ARDSTRAW bounced back from consecutive defeats to record a 2-0 victory over Ballymoney United at Vaughan's Holm on Saturday.
Ballymoney United ...0
After a 2-1 defeat to Trojans a fortnight ago, and a 2-0 loss to Oxford United Stars last week, Ardstraw were back on winning terms thanks to goals from Robbie Godfrey and Gregory McIvor.
The home team looked more comfortable early on Saturday against Ballymoney, and they took the lead on 15 minutes when youngster Jamie Finlay tore down the wing to provide the cross for Godfrey to score at the second attempt.
Ballymoney carved out several opportunities of their own before Godfrey nearly doubled 'Straw's lead with a low drive that just went wide.
Gary King and Gareth McLaughlin also threatened the Antrim side's goal but they would go in at the break with just the single goal lead.
Ardstraw kept up the pressure quickly after the restart, and they eventually got goal number two when substitute McIvor swapped passes with Godfrey to fire low past the Ballymoney goalkeeper. While there were chances for further goals from the home side, Simpson's charges had done enough to earn the points with a performance that satisfied the manager.
"From the first whistle we wanted the tempo of the game to high," said Simpson. "I think we had more quality than Ballymoney. We didn't miss lots of chances, and 2-0 was a fair assessment of the game."
The victory keeps Ardstraw in the hunt for the Intermediate League title, and this Saturday they have another vital game - a chance to enact revenge on Trojans at Vaughan's Holm.
"Against Trojans two weeks ago, I don't think the performance merited defeat. A bad refereeing decision resulted in the penalty to let Trojans back in the game. We were 1-0 up and were very comfortable at that stage going into the last 10 minutes, and we could have held out if the penalty wasn't given.
"The week after, we lost the game 2-0 against Oxford. It wasn't a good result that day but I think the players learnt a lot from the game. We didn't chase the game enough from the start. The players have learnt that we need to play with more emphasis from the start, and that is exactly what we did against Ballymoney on Saturday."
Ardstraw were playing without the services of midfielder Sammy McKelvey, who has recently moved to Dergview. "It's a very hard gap to fill. Technically, Sammy McKelvey is one of the best players in the league on his day," continued Simpson.
"Unfortunately we didn't see enough of the Sammy McKelvey that I would have liked to have seen. We wish him well at Dergview and he'll be hugely missed."
One player though that could help fill the void left by McKelvey is 16-year old Jamie Finlay, and Simpson commended the performance of the teenager, who came into the side from the youth set-up and ended up setting up the first goal.
"The experience will do him the world of good. In three or four years time he will be a real handful for teams.
"We work closely with our youth coach, William Scott, and we look at boys coming through. They will get opportunities under me. Age is only a number.
"I told Jamie before the game on Saturday that I am not concerned about his age. He has got the physique and the power to play at this level."
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