Dungannon Swifts 3-1 Glenavon

Sports Direct Premiership

Stangmore Park

Saturday 9th September 2023

Match report by Calum Jones

Glenavon were defeated 3-1 by Dungannon Swifts at Stangmore Park on Saturday afternoon.

There was a frantic start to the match, with two goals being scored inside the opening four minutes, while the Lurgan Blues also finished the game down to 10 men, with Jamie McDonagh having been shown a straight red card on 67 minutes by referee Ian McNabb.

Amazingly, the Swifts grabbed the lead with just 12 seconds on the clock. Straight from kick-off, Kealan Dillon played the ball to Gael Bigirimana before receiving a return pass. Dillon then fed the ball to Ben Gallagher, who set off on a mazy run from close to the centre circle. He cleverly turned inside Danny Wallace and held off the challenge of Isaac Baird before bursting into the penalty area, evading further challenges in the process, and steering a low shot inside Rory Brown’s right-hand post with his left foot. It was very disappointing from a Glenavon point of view to concede with mere seconds on the clock, but it also has to be said that it was a goal of real quality from Gallagher.

It wasn’t to be long before Glenavon responded, however. Three minutes later, Stephen Teggart dispossessed Joe Moore and then launched a long ball down the right flank. There was a mix-up between goalkeeper Niall Morgan and Swifts captain Chris Hegarty, with both men appearing to leave the ball for each other. That allowed Jackson Nesbitt to nip in and pinch the loose ball. The striker rounded Morgan before rolling the ball into the empty net from a narrow angle to draw the Lurgan Blues level.

Teggart was involved again on eight minutes when he found the target with a shot from the left side of the penalty area, but it was straight at Morgan.

In the 26th minute, McDonagh had a pop at goal from a free kick. Morgan was able to make a comfortable save, however.

Truthfully, there was a lack of intensity for most of the remainder of the first half, which was unusual following the frenzied start to the game.

There was to be one moment of controversy three minutes before the break, though, when Thomas Maguire went down in the box under a challenge from Baird. It looked like the Swifts forward had a really strong shout for a penalty, but referee McNabb was uninterested.

Four minutes into the second period, Gallagher hit the target with a low shot, but Brown made a comfortable save.

The home side grabbed the lead for a second time on 55 minutes. Teggart tried to see the ball out for a throw-in close to the corner flag, but Niall Owens was able to nip in front of the Glenavon fullback and keep the ball in play. The substitute then broke clear of Teggart before sliding a pass into the penalty area for Maguire, who thumped the ball past Brown and into the net from close range.

There was to be no quick response from Glenavon this time, and when McDonagh was shown a straight red card in the 67th minute, any hopes of a comeback were effectively ended. McDonagh jumped to challenge for a ball in the air with Dungannon substitute Adam Glenny. Referee McNabb showed no hesitation in producing the red card to dismiss McDonagh, determining that Glenavon’s number 27 had deliberately led with his elbow.

Dungannon sealed their victory on 80 minutes through Matthew Lusty. Three substitutes combined to create the goal, as Glenny’s throw-in on the left was flicked on by the head of Ethan Devine into the path of Owens, who cut the ball back from close to the byline to find Lusty. The young attacker directed his right-foot shot beyond the dive of Brown and into the far bottom corner to make it 3-1.

The hosts may have added to their advantage on a couple of occasions in the dying minutes of the match. First, in the 87th minute, Lusty had an opportunity to grab his second when he broke through, but his subsequent shot was hit straight at Brown.

Then, in the final minute of normal time, good build-up play created a shooting opportunity for Dillon. Again, though, Brown was equal to the effort.

Dungannon’s first win of the season sees them jump above Glenavon again, who drop back into bottom two.

The Lurgan Blues’ next fixture is a home game against eighth-placed Carrick Rangers next Saturday (16th September). Kick-off at Mourneview Park will be at 3pm.

Dungannon Swifts: 73. Niall Morgan (GK), 2. Ethan McGee, 4. Dean Curry, 5. Caolan Marron, 6. Christopher Hegarty (C), 10. Kealan Dillon, 15. Ben Gallagher, 16. Joseph Moore, 19. Thomas Maguire, 20. Matthew Lusty, 34. Gael Bigirimana

Subs: 7. Niall Owens (for 6. Christopher Hegarty, 46’), 14. Adam Glenny (for 16. Joseph Moore, 46’), 30. Ryan Harpur (for 34. Gael Bigirimana, 61’), 9. Ethan Devine (for 15. Ben Gallagher, 66’); not used: 18. Conor Mitchell (GK), 12. Steven Scott, 24. Andrew Whiteside

Goals: 15. Ben Gallagher (1’), 19. Thomas Maguire (55’), 20. Matthew Lusty (80’)

Yellow cards: 6. Christopher Hegarty (42’)

Glenavon: 1. Rory Brown (GK), 3. Aaron Rogers, 7. Matthew Snoddy, 10. Peter Campbell, 16. Isaac Baird, 17. Conor McCloskey, 20. Stephen Teggart, 23. Daniel Wallace (C), 27. Jamie McDonagh, 29. Jackson Nesbitt, 30. Sean Ward

Subs: 11. Niall Quinn (for 17. Conor McCloskey, 17’), 21. Aaron Prendergast (for 16. Isaac Baird, 70’), 22. Tiarnan Mulvenna (for 29. Jackson Nesbitt, 76’), 34. Cohen Henderson (for 20. Stephen Teggart, 76’); not used: 2. Conor Kerr, 8. Jack Malone, 28. Robert Garrett

Goals: 29. Jackson Nesbitt (4’)

Yellow cards: 10. Peter Campbell (76’)

Red cards: 27. Jamie McDonagh (67’)

Referee: Ian McNabb