Dungannon Swifts and Glenavon were playing for more than bragging rights or pride at Stangmore Park and it was the the home team who won by a more comfortable margin than they deserved.
But for a late Crusaders winner at Newry, Dixie Robinson’s team would be third in the table but the defeat saw Glenavon tumble to seventh after starting the day just two points apart.
Swifts captain Johnny Montgomery, whose clinical defensive play denied James Costello and Trevor Molloy almost certain goals, was delighted with the result — but not with the display.
“I thought this was as poor as we have played this season in terms of overall performance. We struggled to string passes together but, crucially when we needed to, we defended superbly and took the scoring chances when they presented themselves.
“In between these, though, we were disjointed and lacked the fluidity that had been a trademark of our game” said the man of the match.
The losers dropped a place after all their main rivals in the middle segment of the table won and assistant manager Jeff Montgomery felt the defeat was down to simple mistakes.
“For the first 20 minutes we were very content but then we went totally asleep for the free-kick. The second goal was totally inexcusable, leaving us to enter the break two down in a game we felt was a lot closer.
“The third was another that was preventable, three at the back against one and I don’t know why he wasn’t picked up. I can’t defend that.
“And, for the fourth goal, you can ask the full back why he wanted to foul inside the box” quipped Montgomery, standing in on a bad day for suspended manager Marty Quinn.
After a lethargic start, Swifts burst into life with two goals in three minutes midway through the first half.
In his first start since early October, Mickey Ward headed his side in front after Craig McClean crossed.
Then Timmy Adamson raced onto an Alain Emerson through ball and placed it out of Tuda Murphy’s reach.
Both teams had chances before Swifts sealed the victory with a third goal, Adamson outpacing goalkeeper Murphy to a long ball forward from player/assistant manager Darren Murphy before walking the ball to the net.
Adamson could have had a hat-trick just before the end when Swifts were awarded a penalty after Conor Forker was fouled inside the box by former Swift Shea Campbell. But, with a perfect record of five successes from five spot-kicks, Neil McCafferty was the right man for the job and he duly delivered a sixth straight score.