Andrew Doyle’s second-half equaliser earned Ballyclare Comrades an unexpected point against promotion-chasing Ards.
Spectators at Bangor Fuels Arena enjoyed an entertaining Championship 1 fixture played on the pristine 3G surface, in brilliant Spring sunshine, even though it turned out to be a dead rubber.
Going in to this game Ards needed to win to be in the play-off position, provided that Bangor lost, but when the news filtered through that the Seasiders had taken an early lead, the incentive for a home win disappeared.
David Dorrian made four changes with Chris Getty, Ben Browne, Peter Duffin and Randal Reid given starting roles in a 3-5-2 formation, while David McCullough from the Reserves made his debut on the bench.
After a dull opening quarter the game sparked in to life in the 22nd minute when Chris Trussell out-manoeuvred former team-mate Denver Gage, but keeper Shanaghan saved at the expense of a corner.
The Reds continued to impress, and Gary Brown fired over from a Duffin cross, while Trussell just failed to get a touch from a Brown pass with Shanaghan left exposed.
However the hosts finished the first half on top, when Warwick’s diagonal pass found O’Neill unmarked, and he drilled the ball in to the net to give Ards a rather fortunate lead at the break.
Comrades resumed with Joel Cooper replacing Kyle Buckley, and this almost paid off immediately when Trussell dribbled past a couple of defenders before setting up Reid, but his shot flashed wide with only the keeper to beat.
With Getty dominant at the heart of the defence, Flood was rarely tested, while at the opposite end Trussell continued to pose problems, and the pressure paid off in the 70th minute when Doyle’s free from twenty yards rocketed in to the bottom corner.
Ards finished strongly, but at the death Trussell almost nicked the three points when only a smart save with his feet by Shanaghan preserved parity.
Manager David Dorrian said: “ I thought that we were hungrier than they were, and I was disappointed that we didn’t get all three points.”
Ballyclare Comrades: Flood; McCart (C), Getty, Buckley (Cooper 46); Brown (C Reid 58), McIlveen, Browne, Doyle, Duffin; R Reid (McCullough 67), Trussell. Sub not used: Kane.