Photos - Jordan Connolly - @Life Through A Lens NI

Conor McDermott couldn’t hide his delight after his first goal for Bangor helped the side roar back and reclaim the North Down bragging rights on Friday night.

The right wing-back, who joined the Seasiders on loan from Coleraine in the January transfer window, bagged a blockbuster leveller four minutes before half-time that cancelled out Ards striker Lee Newell’s opener in the local derby showdown.

From there, finishes in second-half added-time by centre-back Lewis Francis and veteran ace Michael Halliday helped Lee Feeney’s Yellows charge to a 3-1 success at Clandeboye Park and ensure seven points from nine in grudge matches with the auld enemy in this season’s Playr-Fit Championship.

Although not a game where the scoreline necessarily reflected goings-on on the pitch, with John Bailie’s Ards enjoying a plethora of opportunities before the hosts’ late salvo righted the wrongs of a lost two-goal lead on Boxing Day and added to August’s 1-0 win courtesy of Adam Neale’s second-half tap-in, reigning Bannsiders Player of the Year McDermott was proud to chart his team on the path to victory with a fantastic chip over stranded ‘keeper Alex Moore that he admits he will “never forget”.

“You know what, it wasn’t us at our best, but when you don’t play well, sometimes that’s where you’ve got to sort of grind the points out,” he reflected on the display as a whole.

“Conceding the first goal, it sort of gave us a boot up the backside that we needed because it came at a stage when we weren’t playing well, and we had to react to that.

“I obviously went up and got the equaliser, there was a bit of a mix-up at the back, a bit of a mishit, I was in the right place and I caught a sight of goal and I was able to put the ball in the back of the net.

“The way the ball fell for me, if I went to hit it on my right foot, then the defender was recovering and he probably would’ve nicked in and kicked it into touch.

“So, I went for it on my left, I saw the keeper off his line and I lobbed it over the keeper and was able to pick out the top corner. A few of the boys were having a laugh afterwards and said I didn’t mean it, but no, I’m definitely claiming it – you have to claim everything!

“I don’t score many goals in a season, they don’t come around too often, so if I am able to chip in with one or two over the course of the rest of the season and it helps us pick up a few more points on the board, that’s great.

“It was a proud moment for me and it sort of gave us a foothold in the game again.

“I’d an opportunity to maybe 10 minutes earlier from a free-kick and, being honest, I got it horribly wrong… it was a good chance, so I felt I kind of had to make up for that down the line.

“I think the timing of the goal, coming before half-time, it was important, it’s always going to be a key point in the game when you’re behind and getting the goal helped us settle down.

“I was pleased to be able to make amends from that point of view after that rocky patch in the game, and from there, we fought back, rallied together and got the three points.

“We had a poor start but we got back on our feet, we have good characters in the squad, and it certainly wasn’t our best performance but we got the job done.

“I’ll never forget my first goal for Bangor, for sure.”

The 26-year-old former Cliftonville defender, who arrived on the seaside having spent the first part of the campaign on loan at Premier Intermediate League outfit Lisburn Distillery, felt the one-off nature of a derby match also suited Bangor come referee Michael McKenna’s final whistle. He added that while the Seagulls were not vintage in their display, three points was what counted most if Bangor are to retain hopes of back-to-back promotions this term.

McDermott continued:

“It was a case of just winning, and especially with it being a derby and the Friday night and the big crowd, everyone’s going to be up for it and both teams are going to have their moments.

“So, it’s a case of the team that has those moments and takes their chances is going to get the result in the end.

“Form’s not really a factor when you go into it, and winning a derby is always a great feeling.

“You have to look at the positives, it’s always a big boost when you win a derby and it’s the sign of a team that’s fighting for the league, or fighting for promotion, that they can win without being at your best, so we’re happy about that.”

Conor McDermott

by Lewis Bennett (Posted: Sunday, 11th February 2024)