Goals from Jeff Brady, John Guy and Davy Hawthorne secured a hard-fought win over Ards to give Colin Malone a dream start in charge of the Villagers.
Ards controlled much of the first half proceedings with the new-look Loughgall side struggling to retain possession in difficult weather conditions.
However the visitors netted early on when Adam Pedlow controlled Greg Hall’s forward pass, shrugged off his marker, before racing into space to cross for left winger Brady to slot home at the back post. The lead was short-lived when the Newtownards outfit levelled on 17 minutes as Ross Arthurs rose highest to head home from close range.
The Villagers began to dominate the second period and looked more assured on the ball, consequently they regained their lead on 63 minutes when Adam Pedlow whipped in a superb low cross from the right wing that was converted by John Guy sliding inside the penalty area.
The home side levelled from the penalty spot on 78 minutes when Nathan Baird was harshly adjudged to have fouled inside the penalty area. Nathan McConnell stepped up and saw his penalty parried by ‘keeper Marc Robinson but the striker calmly netted the rebound.
The winner came with nine minutes remaining as Mark Teggart’s low cross from the byline was only half-cleared to the edge of the penalty area, and Hawthorne was waiting to rifle the ball home inside the post.
The home side’s best chance to equalise was well-worked inside the penalty area as goalscorer Arthurs performed a clever back-heel into space Aaron McKee was running into, however the midfielder couldn’t keep his effort on target.
Loughgall: Robinson, Hall, Baird (Rodgers 83m), Hull, Stewart, Emerson, Brady, Hawthorne, Pedlow, Guy (McNeill 64m), Teggart (Markey 89m). Unused subs: King, Marks.
Ards: McKibben, Pike, Devine (Doyle 74m), Spence, Young, McDowell (A Arthurs 86m), McKee, McIlhagga, R Arthurs, McConnell, Cooley (Picking 21m). Unused subs: Wright, McKnight.
Referee: Graham McIlwrath