Dungannon 3-2 Ballinamallard: Andrew Mitchell late strike fires Swifts into top six
Rodney McAree praised his Dungannon side after they struck late to win a chaotic derby against Ballinamallard.
Andrew Mitchell scored in the 88th minute to fire the Swifts into the top six.
But that is only half the story of a dramatic match which produced five goals, a controversial penalty and a late red card.
Dungannon led 2-1 going into the last four minutes.
However, Josh McIlwaine looked to have rescued a point in the 86th minute, stabbing home after Ryan Mayse’s free-kick fell kindly.
But Mitchell won it when he turned David Armstrong’s header across the line, taking his tally for the season to 16 goals.
McAree said: “As soon as it went 2-2, I thought that was it. I didn't really see a winner.
“But credit to the boys, they showed terrific spirit to go on and win it.
“Conceding so late could have knocked us, but there is a good attitude in the team.
“We’ve worked hard over the Christmas period, the training has been fantastic, and the players deserve this.”
One of the Mallards’ four wins this season came against Dungannon in October and at the break they were on course for a repeat.
Jason McCartney’s eye-catching goal in the 27th minute gave them the lead, somewhat against the run of play.
A goal kick found its way through to McCartney, who lobbed the ball over the oncoming Stuart Addis and just inside the far post.
Mayse, sporting a heavily bandaged forehead from a first half collision, saw an effort palmed away by the goalkeeper after the break.
The Swifts drew level in controversial circumstances in the 69th minute.
Jamie Glackin won a penalty, which Mitchell converted - but the Mallards claimed it went in via a second touch off the striker’s other boot.
After a brief discussion with his assistant, the referee awarded the goal.
Sub Paul McElroy then put the home side 2-1 in front.
He met a cross from Mitchell, with his header beating the goalkeeper a little too easily.
But that was only the start of a crazy finale.
McIlwaine levelled, before Mitchell’s dramatic winner.
Then, in the final seconds, Liam McMenamin was sent off for the away side.
McAree added: “We have 16 wins and 14 losses in 2016, the rest are draws.
“For Dungannon Swifts over a calendar year that is very good.”
DGN SWIFTS: Addis, Burns, Wilson, Armstrong, O’Rourke, Harpur, Glackin, Teggart (Lowe, 90), McMahon (Burke, 66), Lavery (McElroy, 60), Mitchell
Subs not used: Morgan, Fitzpatrick
BALLINAMALLARD: Crawford, McMenamin, Taheny, McCabe, McKenna, Mayse, McIlwaine, Elliott (Owens, 77), McCartney, McConnell, Lafferty (Cadden, 80)
Subs not used: McGrath, Feeney, Frempong
Referee: Shane Andrews (Comber)