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Andrew Mitchell the hero as Dungannon Swifts take a big step

Dungannon S 1-0 Coleriane

By Adrian Rutherford

Andrew Mitchell struck a late, late winner to all but secure Dungannon Swifts' place in the Premiership.

The striker's 89th minute tap-in was a memorable moment in an otherwise forgettable clash.

It took Swifts seven points clear of the drop zone with just three games to play, and anything other than defeat against Warrenpoint on Saturday will confirm survival.

Mitchell showed a clinical edge which the game had been lacking.

Having come on in the second half, he reacted fastest when Terry Fitzpatrick's shot was spilled by the goalkeeper, and he netted from close range.

It meant a third straight defeat for Coleraine, who had Neil McCafferty sent off in the final seconds.

Between them these sides had served up just three wins from their last 14 league games, so few would have been expecting a classic.

Yet even the most pessimistic of soles surely hoped for better than the dismal spectacle served up in the opening 45 minutes.

The best chance fell to ex-Swifts midfielder McCafferty in the 25th minute.

He took aim 20 yards from goal, with goalkeeper Andy Coleman producing a top-class save to turn his dipping effort onto the crossbar.

Otherwise it was a lacklustre spectacle painfully lacking in quality.

Brad Lyons sent an effort over for Coleraine while at the other end Abby Sanusi fired wide after being teed up by Douglas Wilson.

Matt Hazley was the architect of Dungannon's best chances.

After forcing David Ogilby into a panicked defensive clearance, his resulting corner found Gary Liggett, who drilled a low shot just wide.

Then towards the end of the first half the goalkeeper had to be alert to fist Hazley's inswinging corner away from his back post. Players scrambled for the loose ball but the visitors' defence held firm.

Nor did the opening minutes of the second half offer any promise of a break in the monotony.

It was hard to fault the players' effort, just the overall lack of quality.

An example came when Andrew Burns raced forward from right-back to meet Jamie Glackin's pass, only to drag his shot horribly wide.

Just before the hour Mitchell was sent on as Dungannon searched for a breakthrough.

And the change almost paid immediate dividends as the striker beat the offside trap but, struggling to shake off Ogilby, he shot narrowly wide.

Ruaidhri Higgins twice threatened for Coleraine in the space of a minute.

First, after Parkhill had drawn a foul in a threatening position, the midfielder pulled the resulting free-kick narrowly off target.

Soon after the ball dropped on the edge of the box but Higgins' first-time shot flashed wide.

Fitzpatrick finally had the ball in the net in the 75th minute, but the goal was ruled out because the ball had gone out of play in the build-up.

It was that sort of night and, when Liggett's late curling effort came back off the post, it seemed the match was heading for stalemate, but Mitchell struck in the nick of time as Dungannon snatched it.

Dungannon Swifts: Coleman, Burns, Wilson, Armstrong, O'Rourke, Sanusi, Harpur, Fitzpatrick, Hazley, Glackin, Liggett. Substitutions: Mitchell (Sanusi, 58 mins), McCullough (Glackin, 90 mins).

Coleraine: Findlay, Watt, McNeill, Canning, Ogilby, Lyons, McCafferty, Higgins, McCauley, Harkin, Snoddy. Substitutions: Parkhill (Lyons, 42 mins), McGonigle (Harkin, 84 mins).

Man of the match: Andrew Mitchell

Match rating: 3/10

Referee: Tim Marshall (Irvinestown)

Belfast Telegraph


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