Dungannon Swifts 1 Linfield 4
David Jeffrey might not describe his squad as an embarrassment of riches, not least because that expression implies the notion of wealth, but Saturday’s romp at Stangmore Park emphasises yet again that they are a class apart from even the best of the rest.
And there’s further evidence of the quality of their ranks in the fact that their man of the match was a different one for the third week running.
What didn’t change, however, was that they once again won with a bit to spare and are threatening to run away with the league — three points clear, with a goal difference of plus nine!
On a day when many players had chances to enhance their reputations, Mark McAllister made the most telling contribution.
He was the architect of two goals, scored one himself and should probably have had a couple more.
“I am very happy with my performance. Things were going my way,” he said.
“I didn’t dwell on the miss when one-on-one. There was too much time available and I fell into the trap of thinking about things, rather than just going with my instinct.
“Having been involved in our opening goal, I wanted one for myself and was delighted to score my first of the season.
“But it’s all about the team and, when I couldn’t get a shot off in the second half, the simple thing was to lay it off to David Armstrong as he was in a better position — and he deservedly got his second goal in a week.
“This win gives us a bit of momentum going in against Glentoran, it was a good all-round showing against a team that many are writing off. But, as we saw in the second half, despite having lost a couple of top performers, they are still a capable side and will cause teams problems at Stangmore.”
Bossman Jeffrey was full of praise for his front man at a venue where the Blues have been known to come unstuck in the past.
“Mark was immense today,” he enthused.
“I thought he showed great courage and bravery because, if we are being fair, he should have scored one — perhaps two — prior to his goal but he didn’t hide or make himself anonymous.
“He kept showing for the ball and kept getting into goal-scoring positions.
“You might get away with missing a few chances at other clubs but at Linfield you are always under the spotlight and Mark dealt with it well. I thought he was excellent in this game.
“I wasn’t happy to have conceded a goal and I have told the player who lost his man that I am not happy.
“That said, I can’t really complain with a 4-1 win.”
McAllister set up the opening goal for Robert Garrett — a sweet first-time cannonball to the top right corner — and redeemed himself for fluffing a good chance by firing home from six yards after Philip Lowry and Peter Thompson were both denied in a goalmouth scramble following Damien Curran’s wicked corner delivery.
McAllister’s powerful drive was then splendidly saved by young Dungannon goalkeeper Niall Morgan following an error from defender Adam McMinn.
But there was no denying Linfield their third as Armstrong — on target with a rare strike against Donegal Celtic at Windsor Park seven days previous — displayed his shooting boots once again, finishing well to further extend the visitors’ advantage.
Johnny Topley gave Swifts a glimmer of hope with a headed score, only for on-loan Rory Patterson to nicely net his first Linfield goal right at the end.
Optimistic Swifts boss Dixie Robinson still took plus points from the match.
“They have the kind of squad that I could only dream of. That said, I didn’t think we did our reputation any harm.
“We played Glentoran last week and, with all due respect, Linfield are miles ahead of them. In my opinion, the gap is widening between Linfield and the rest.”