Ards took a big step towards Premiership safety with a slender single goal win over Carrick Rangers.
Midfielder Scott Davidson’s 30th-minute goal was the difference between the sides.
Ards made a lively start to this Boxing Day encounter, with Michael McLellan firing over the bar after a knock-down from Scott Davidson in the 14th minute.
Another Ards high ball caused problems for Carrick in the 26th minute when a spot of head tennis between substitute Ben Arthurs and Davidson handed captain Gareth Tommons a chance, but he fired over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
Ards made the breakthrough on the half-hour mark. Two Carrick defenders collided underneath a clipped ball, allowing midfielder Davidson to turn a shot past Harry Doherty from close range.
The second half produced no goals, but there was plenty of incidents. Carrick claimed for a penalty in the 49th with Eamonn McAllister was pulled back by Michael Ruddy. A minute later McAllister forced Johnston into a good save with a powerful drive.
Carrick struggled to create many clear-cut chances, with Ards soaking up the majority of the pressure.
At the other end, McLellan went close on three occasions, while an overhit David McAllister cross clipped the top of the bar.
Carrick closed the game out with ten men, after Mark Clarke hobbled off after David McAlinden had deployed all three subs.
Ards could have been reduced to ten men after Johnny Taylor kicked-out in the 83rd minute, while Carrick’s Larmour was fortunate to stay on the pitch after a collided with Josh Kelly in stoppage time.
On both occasions, referee Shane Andrews opted for a yellow card.
This hard-fought win puts Ards ten points clear of the relegation play-off spot.
Ards: Johnston; Glendinning, Taylor, Elebert, Ruddy; Davidson, Tommons (59 Cherry) , Kelly, McAllister; Mitchell (15 Arthurs); McLellan
Subs Not Used: Hanley, McAleenan
Carrick Rangers: Doherty; Chapman, Larmour, McNally, Edgar; Roy (57 Suarez), Surgenor (74 Clarke), Hassin, McAllister (74 Gage); Smyth, Mooney
Subs Not Used: Maybin, Morrow
Ref: Shane Andrews (Comber)