Dungannon Swifts 1–4 Cliftonville
CLIFTONVILLE came from a goal behind at the interval on their way to a 4-1 rout of Dungannon Swifts at Stangmore Park on Saturday afternoon.
Falling behind to a Matty Lusty strike prior to the break, they quickly turned things around with two goals inside of four minutes from Joe Gormley and Ronan Hale before the hour mark.
Having survived two penalty appeals, they repeated their quickfire double in closing stages as substitute Ben Wilson struck either side of the 90th minute to ensure a fourth successive league win for the Reds, which saw them close the in on Linfield and Larne at the top after the duo dropped points.
Reds’ boss Jim Magilton admitted that he couldn’t wait for the break after a below-par opening half and praised his players for honesty and wiliness to turn things around after the break.
“I’m delighted, absolutely delighted,” he said.
“We couldn’t wait for half time to come to be honest. We were outplayed and outfought for 45 minutes and Dungannon went in deservedly 1-0 up, maybe could have been more than that.
“We’ve a fantastic, honest group of players and they acknowledged it. We just asked for a greater intensity in our play, greater quality in our play, which we’ve shown all season and we got both.”
Magilton named an unchanged starting eleven from their derby victory last Saturday as they returned to the scene of their last set-back in November when Matty Lusty’s goal knocked his side out of the Bet McLean Cup.
The Swifts began the game on the front foot with Adam Glenny digging out a low cross into the six-yard box that was met by Tomas Galvin, though David Odumosu was equal to his effort.
Kealan Dillon then lifted a free-kick over the wall but comfortably into the arms of the Cliftonville shot-stopper.
The visitors’ best chance came when Ronan Doherty latched onto a ball over the top of the Swifts defence and dragged his low shot inches past the far post.
At the other end, a mix-up may have resulted in the hosts hitting the front. Gael Bigirimana floated in a cross that Odhran Casey chested back towards Odumosu, the Reds ’keeper wasn’t expecting it and had to spare Casey’s blushes.
Odumosu then turned Ethan McGee’s driven shot into the side-netting as Dungannon continued to probe.
Eventually they were rewarded in the 39th minute with the opener. Having successfully defended three successive corners, Tomas Galvin launched clearance fell to Matty Lusty in midfield. He slipped the ball to Leo Alves who turned Chris Gallagher and cut back for Lusty to poke home and give the Swifts the lead at the break.
Cliftonville upped at the ante and were back on level terms after 52 minutes.
Ronan Doherty’s corner was kept in by Luke Turner at the back post, Dean Curry’s attempted clearance only fell to Rory Hale at the edge of the area, and he floated in a cross that fell to Joe Gormley to hammer home and score his 25th career goal against the Swifts in the process.
Just four minutes later, the turnaround was complete after Chris Gallagher sent a ball up the channel and Dean Curry momentarily cut out the pass before his attempted clearance bounced off Ronan Hale with the striker taking advantage, slotting past Conor Mitchell to make it 2-1.
Both sides went close after the hour mark with Lusty sending a low pass across the face of goal, but there was nobody there to gamble, while Cahal McGinty threw himself in the way of Rory Hale’s threaded pass to Joe Gormley.
The Swifts pushed for an equaliser and felt they were denied two penalties in the last quarter of an hour.
On the first occasion, substitute Ben Gallagher rose to meet a header from the left and felt he was illegally held back as he attempted to turn home after David Odumosu had parried his initial attempt.
A few minutes later, Matty Lusty was primed to double his account until Odhran Casey got back to challenge the winger and his shot took a deflection and was gathered by Odumosu.
Ben Gallagher saw a 25-yard volley whistle wide of the post a few minutes later and that was as close as Dungannon would come to restoring parity.
Cliftonville eased the nerves two minutes from time when substitute Sam Ashford held the ball up for the overlapping run of Rory Hale and Hale rolled the ball across for Ben Wilson to sweep home from a few yards out and make it 3-1.
Wilson would double his account in added time, meeting Stephen Mallon’s cross at the near post to seal a fantastic comeback win and ensure that the Reds closed in on Linfield and Larne’s slip ups this weekend.
DUNGANNON SWIFTS: Mitchell, McGee, Curry, Marron, Dillon, Glenny (Owens 75’), McGinty, Lusty, Alves (Gallagher 67’), Bigirimana, Galvin (Knowles 75’).
CLIFTONVILLE: Odumosu. Kearney, Addis, Casey, Turner (McGuinness 71’), Gallagher, Doherty, Rory Hale, Mallon, Ronan Hale (Ashford 81’), Gormley (Wilson 63’).
REFEREE: Evan Boyce