Dungannon Swift 2-1 Glenavon

Danske Bank Premiership

Stangmore Park

Saturday 21st January 2023

Match report by Calum Jones

Glenavon suffered a second defeat of the season at Stangmore Park against second-from-bottom Dungannon Swifts on Saturday afternoon, with the Lurgan Blues squandering a lead as the hosts came from behind to win 2-1.

Aaron Prendergast gave Glenavon the lead on 25 minutes with a stunning strike from a free kick, but Mayowa Animasahun levelled for the Swifts 11 minutes later with a scrappy goal.

Michael O’Connor scored what proved to be the winner in the 63rd minute with a fine low drive.

O’Connor was then shown a straight red card just nine minutes after getting on the scoresheet, but the ten men of Dungannon managed to hold on for a vital win.

The hosts threatened early on. Rhyss Campbell whipped over a dangerous cross from the left in the second minute, but Glenavon managed to snuff out the danger.

On 11 minutes, Glenavon goalkeeper Rory Brown did well to get off his line quickly and make a save one-on-one against Joe McCready after the striker had been sent through on goal.

Glenavon grabbed the lead against the run of play on 25 minutes. The visitors won a free kick some 20 yards from goal. Peter Campbell ran over the ball to leave the responsibility to Prendergast, and the young striker produced a superb strike, beautifully curling the ball into the far top corner to give goalkeeper Declan Dunne no chance.

Glenavon might have doubled their lead just two minutes after Prendergast’s strike when Matthews Snoddy and Fitzpatrick combined, with the former picking the latter out with a cross from the left. Fitzpatrick hit the target with his header, but Dunne was equal to the effort, and managed to tip the ball over the bar.

A minute later at the other end, O’Connor hit the crossbar with a brilliant headed effort after he’d been picked out with a deep cross from the right. In truth, the forward was very unlucky not to score.

The Swifts did find the equaliser on 36 minutes, however. Isaac Baird did well to block a Gerardo Bruna cross from the right, only for the ball to fall kindly back to the Swifts player. Bruna advanced into the box before driving the ball towards goal from a tight angle. Brown managed to get a hand to the ball, but it dropped into the six-yard box. Animasahun was quickest to react, and he prodded home to make it 1-1.

Glenavon tried to regain the lead before the break, and a period of pressure on 40 minutes saw a couple of half chances created for the Lurgan Blues, but they couldn’t breach the Swifts defence.

The visitors did think they’d grabbed the lead again a minute before the break when Prendergast put the ball in the net for a second time. Prendergast was picked out with a superb outside-of-the-foot cross from Campbell from the right, and the young striker clinically beat Dunne to find the goal, but the linesman raised his flag to rule the effort out for offside, and so the teams went into half-time level pegging at one goal apiece.

Bruna flashed a low shot wide of Brown’s left-hand post in the opening minute of the second period, while Fitzpatrick saw his header drift wide of the post at the other end on 62 minutes.

From the resulting goal kick, Dungannon launched an attack that resulted in the winning goal. Ben Cushnie picked the ball up close to the halfway line and carried it forward before sliding a pass into the path of O’Connor. The forward steadied himself before striking a low first-time shot with his right foot from 20 yards which went through the legs of Calum Birney and found the bottom corner of the net.

Less than 10 minutes later, O’Connor had to leave the field when referee Tim Marshall flashed a red card at him in the 72nd minute for his actions in the midst of a melee that kicked off after McCready had been fouled in the centre circle. McCready himself picked up a yellow, along with Glenavon’s Birney.

With the one-man advantage, Glenavon searched desperately for an equaliser. Fitzpatrick headed harmlessly over the bar from a Campbell corner in the 76th minute, while Campbell himself saw his shot deflected wide of the target after he’d cut in from the left on 83 minutes.

The closest Glenavon came to rescuing a point was through young Jamie Doran. The substitute ran onto a loose ball outside the box with a minute of normal time remaining. Doran’s low shot was struck well, but Dunne was able to dive down to his right and make the save.

There was one final opportunity for the Lurgan Blues in the seventh minute of injury time when Conor Kerr’s corner from the left led to a goalmouth scramble, but nobody could force the ball home, and so Gary Hamilton’s men had to leave Stangmore Park empty-handed for a second time this season.

Following back-to-back defeats, Glenavon will hope to bounce back at Mourneview Park on Tuesday night, but they face the sternest of tests in the form of current league leaders Cliftonville. Kick-off will be at 7:45pm.

Dungannon Swifts: 1. Declan Dunne (GK), 5. Caolan Marron, 6. James Knowles (C), 9. Joseph McCready, 10. Michael O’Connor, 11. Rhyss Campbell, 22. Ben Cushnie, 23. Michael Ruddy, 27. Ethan McGee, 35. Mayowa Animasahun, 48. Gerardo Bruna

Subs: 42. Steven Scott (for 48. Gerardo Bruna, 54’), 8. Ryan Mayse (for 9. Joseph McCready, 87’), 39. Padraig Lynch (for 22. Ben Cushnie, 87’); not used: 18. Dwayne Nelson (GK), 19. Marc Walsh, 21. Oran O’Kane, 30. Joseph Moore

Goals: 35. Mayowa Animasahun (36’), 10. Michael O’Connor (63’)

Yellow cards: 9. Joseph McCready (71’)

Red cards: 10. Michael O’Connor (72’)

Glenavon: 1. Rory Brown (GK), 4. Calum Birney, 6. Andrew Doyle, 7. Matthew Snoddy, 9. Matthew Fitzpatrick, 10. Peter Campbell, 16. Isaac Baird, 17. Conor McCloskey, 21. Aaron Prendergast, 23. Daniel Wallace (C), 30. Sean Ward

Subs: 2. Conor Kerr (for 17. Conor McCloskey, 7’), 28. Robert Garrett (for 16. Isaac Baird, 76’), 29. Jack Malone (for 7. Matthew Snoddy, 76’), 24. Jamie Doran (for 6. Andrew Doyle, 87’); not used: 18. Marc Matthews (GK), 14. Harry Norton, 25. Aaron Rogers

Goals: 21. Aaron Prendergast (25’)

Yellow cards: 9. Matthew Fitzpatrick (55’), 4. Calum Birney (71’), 16. Isaac Baird (75’), 23. Daniel Wallace (90+5’), 1. Rory Brown

Referee: Tim Marshall