Carrick and Swifts claim a vital point in bore
If Boxing Day's north Belfast Derby at Seaview was a festive cracker, last night's match at the same venue between Carrick Rangers and Dungannon Swifts felt like a nasty post-Christmas hangover.
The two relegation threatened sides played out a turgid 0-0 draw that gave the small band of loyal supporters little to cheer about and which was a world away from Crusaders' 3-2 defeat of Cliftonville on the Shore Road a day earlier.
Despite the lack of entertainment, the point gained was valuable for both teams with Carrick climbing above Glenavon into ninth place and Dungannon Swifts pulling further clear of basement side Lisburn Distillery.
Paul Heatley had a golden opportunity to put Carrick ahead in the fifth minute, but he put the ball wide from eight yards out.
The same player went close again on 28 minutes when, after skipping past teenage full-back Liam Donnelly, he forced keeper Niall Morgan into making a save with his feet.
Dungannon's only real threat in the first half came via the pace of Stefan Lavery, but he lacked the composure to carve out a goal.
The second period was little better than the first. Paul Owens fired two free-kicks well over the crossbar but the best chance of the match arrived on 65 minutes when Tony Anderson picked out Owens with searching pass and, following his cross from the right, Anto Lagan's volley was magnificently saved by Morgan.
Dungannon's best opportunity came two minutes later when full-back Donnelly burst into the box and put the ball across the face of goal, but there was no one on hand to find the back of the net.
The last quarter of the contest passed off without incident and both sets of players and fans looked relieved when referee Raymond Hetherington brought the game to an end.
CARRICK RANGERS: Valko, Murray, Bell (Hogan, 46 mins), McAlinden, Taggart, Owens (Addis, 70 mins), Anderson, Hutchinson (McClean, 67 mins), Heatley, Lagan, McDowell. Unused subs: James, Smith
DUNGANNON SWIFTS: Morgan, L Donnelly, McMinn, Montogmery (McGerrigan, 51 mins), McClean, Ward (C Forker, 87 mins), O'Neill, Fitzpatrick (McKerr, 73 mins), Murphy, Topley, Lavery. Unused subs: P Donnelly, Baldwin
Referee: Raymond Hetherington (Dungannon)
* THE outstanding Carling Premiership fixture between Ballymena United and Glentoran, postponed from December 17, has been rescheduled for Tuesday, January 17.
In addition, the Sky Blues' January 28 meeting with Portadown will instead be played on the 31st.