Woeful Swifts fall to Glenavon
Wednesday, 15 March 2017
AN ABJECT Dungannon Swifts were swatted aside by MId-Ulster rivals Glenavon at the weekend.
With a top six spot still up for grabs, one would have expected far more bite and desire from the Swifts than that which they displayed on Saturday at Mourneview Park.
First half goals from David Elebert and James Gray were more than enough to see off the challenge of the Swifts.
Dungannon lacked any cohesion throughout and never seriously looked like getting back into the game in the second half and Glenavon coasted to victory.
Very few Swifts players will have emerged with much credit from Saturday's showing.
Cormac Burke was about the only Swifts player who looked like he might create something, with far too many players looking apathetic.
A top six finish is now out of the question and the Swifts now face a fight for seventh and the last European play-off spot available for finishing seventh, with Glentoran and now Ards both just three points behind.
It was the home side who had by far the better of the first 15 minutes as they started with real purpose.
Glenavon could easily have taken the lead with just six minutes played.
First James Singleton had a header cleared off the line by Jamie Glackin from a Mark Sykes corner and then Mark Sykes picked up the ball which was only partially cleared and struck the post with a fine effort from the left side of the Swifts' area. There ensued a penalty box scramble, which eventually ended with Guy Bates heading just wide.
The Swifts' best moment in the opening stages saw Cormac Burke pounce on a weak defensive header by Aaron Canning to slide in Andrew Mitchell, but his effort from a tight angle was deflected into the side netting on 11 minutes.
Glenavon went back on the offensive and a perfectly weighted James Singleton pass landed at the feet of Mark Sykes on the right side and his driven effort was pushed behind for a corner at his near post by Andy Coleman.
The goal the Mourneview men had been threatening came on 15 minutes, the resultant corner was taken by Joel Cooper and headed against the bar by James Singleton at the back post before looping up for David Elebert to head home from close range.
Glenavon seemed to take their foot off the pedal at this stage and Dungannon started to get a foothold in the game.
And they really should have been level on 26 minutes, but Andrew Mitchell blazed a free header over the bar from eight yards after connecting with a fine right wing Peter McMahon cross.
However, the Swifts were to suffer a major blow on the half hour mark, Guy Bates doing well to dig out a cross to the far post from the left side. Sykes' header was only cleared as far as Joel Cooper on the edge of the area and his left footed volley was blocked but fell to James Gray to smash home.
The Swifts were looking woefully disjointed and were lucky to only be two goals down, with Glenavon cutting through the Dungannon defence all too easily, but poor decision making and some last ditch challenges were keeping the gap at two.
And their luck continued to hold as half time approached, with Rhys Marshall getting sandwiched by two Swifts defenders as he ran on to a neat Guy Bates flick, but referee Stephen Taylor decided not to award a penalty.
The second half started off in a much more low key manner than the first, though the Swifts will have been happy they were more comfortably keeping a lid on Glenavon's attacking edge.
Tommy Lockhart and Stefan Lavery were brought on for Paul McElroy and the totally ineffectual Jamie Glackin, and a Tommy Lockhart cross from the Dungannon left very nearly opened a path back into the game for Dungannon, but Andrew Mitchell's fine header was saved superbly by Jonny Tuffey in the Glenavon goal.
However, it was an all too rare moment of cohesion for the Swifts.
They gave the ball away dreadfully sloppily time after time, and made it easy for Glenavon to hold on to their lead.
Cormac Burke did force Tuffey into action with nine minutes to play, his free kick from wide on the left was heading towards the top corner before the Glenavon goalkeeper tipped it behind.
Elebert nearly made it three five minutes from time, his header from a Joel Cooper corner went inches wide of Coleman's left hand post with the goalkeeper nowhere.
Swifts boss Rodney McAree will be demanding far more from his charges this weekend when they welcome Cliftonville to Stangmore Park, with kick off at 3pm this Saturday, 18 March.
Dungannon Swifts - Andy Coleman, Kris Lowe, David Armstrong, Chris Hegarty, Jarlath O'Rourke, Ryan Harpur, Jamie Glackin (Stefan Lavery 58), Cormac Burke, Paul McElroy (Tommy Lockhart 52), Peter McMahon (Terry Fitzpatrick 69), Andrew Mitchell.
Unused subs - Ally Teggart, Seanan Clucas.
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