Ballinamallard United ended a three-match losing sequence with a late, late winner against their nearest neighbours, albeit 40-plus miles away, as Craig Hill’s first senior strike made the club’s first ever experience of a Boxing Day derby a very enjoyable one.
The home team manager may have been visibly annoyed by the reversal of fortune for Swifts, who had gained a well-deserved early season reputation for hitting visitors to Stangmore Park with a sucker-punch finishing salvo.
Indeed, they almost did it again when Jonny Topley flashed a 20 yard bullet-like shot goalwards on 81 minutes which hit the bar.
That seemed to most observers as the defining moment of the match, but they hadn’t reckoned with the never-say-die character of the Erne men who produced a smash and grab finish, courtesy of the adventurous right back.
The match was well into the third of three injury-time minutes when Hill cut in from the right wing to dispatch a decisive shot which left home supporters experienced the same sort of feeling as left-over turkey.
“I’m disappointed with my own team’s performance but I can’t fault the players for their effort. They created enough chances to win the game but didn’t take any” groaned Darren Murphy.
“We got caught at the end, we have caught teams at the end — that’s football, it happens.”
Whitey Anderson beamed: “It’s very hard on Dungannon to lose in this manner but a very good way to win it. Our character showed in this game; we had the determination to keep going and that was rewarded”.
Dungannon Swifts: Morgan, R O’Neill, Montgomery, Friars, Grieve, S Lavery, Fitzpatrick (Hutchinson, 70), Topley, C Lavery, McKerr, S O’Neill (PJ Lavery, 81) Unused subs: Brennan, Harpur, Glackin
Ballinamallard United: Rouse, Keohane, Carters, Stafford, Kee, Curran, Campbell, Crawford (Sheridan, 78), McCartney (Martin, 71) McKenna, Hill Unused subs: McGrath, O’Grady, Feeney
Referee: Arnold Hunter (Maguiresbridge).