Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

McAllister can make his mark on bigger stage

Mark McAllister looks a certainty to join a cross channel club - perhaps when the transfer window re-opens in January.

The 19-year-old striker played a major role as Dungannon Swifts drew 1-1 with Linfield in the CIS Cup group qualifying match - a point which put the Blues into the quarter-finals.

Glenavon, Ballymena Untied and Swifts are all battling it out for the second spot.

His quality was always evident, a key figure, in what was an overall superb team performance of the highest category.

I've no doubt he could make the grade in either England or Scotland.

McAllister rejected an offer from Glasgow Celtic earlier this year after terms had been agreed between the clubs while Dungannon said: "No" to an offer from Morton last Thursday.

"The timing was not right either for the player or Dungannon," said manager Harry Fay. "I've told him to focus on the future and take it from there."

Much of the credit for Dungannon's Irish league impact is due to Fay's tactical expertise and man management of players.

Ambitious for success? Without question, but he still possesses a down-to-earth streak, a realistic approach.

Analysing Saturday's entertaining all-action 90 minutes he said: " Football is all about scoring goals. Chances can be created but they must be put away and we failed to do just that."

How right he is if they had accepted them - Michael Hagarty struck the bar, Shane Campbell hit the post and they could have beaten the Blues if they had been more positive in the box.

Even Linfield boss David Jeffrey admitted that.

This was not one of Linfield's top drawer performances. Indeed it prompted Jeffrey to comment: "We conceded a sloppy goal which galvanised Dungannon. Too many of my players had an off day.

"I set a standard and don't like to see it dropped by anyone."

Linfield have however such a large and highly competent playing staff they can afford to ring changes if necessary, replacing like with like although there could be a goalkeeping problem in the offing should anything happen to Northern Ireland international Alan Mannus as they are a somewhat short on experienced stand-ins.

Jeffrey reported that long term casualties Conor Downey, Oran Kearney and Pat McShane are making steady progress with the first two hopefully available by mid December as they enter the critical fixture-packed Christmas and New Year programme.

McAllister and Shane McCabe played a one-two in the build-up for the Dungannon goal after 15 minutes McCabe finishing off the move with a solid shot into the box.

Seven minutes later Linfield equalised with a goal which exposed Dungannon's vulnerability at set pieces.

From Damien Curran's in-swinging corner the unmarked Glenn Ferguson headed over the line for his third goal of the season and 487th in a distinguished career. Spike is the stuff of legends.

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