Dungannon Swifts 1 Cliftonville.1
Dungannon Swifts slipped two places down the table to sixth spot, but won't be complaining about that after a cracking late goal from Mickey Ward earned them a precious home point against Cliftonville.
After a poor first half, George McMullan’s penalty seven minutes into the second, after Dungannon’s Adam McMinn fouled Liam Boyce, was the catalyst for an increasing number of scoring chances.
Swifts had offered very little prior to The Reds goal, but they sparked into life after it.
Marc McCann and Ryan Mullan both headed narrowly wide, Neil McCafferty hit the crossbar with a 30 yards free before his cross set Ward up for the spectacular finish five minutes from time.
The former Leeds United player took a touch, in a congested box, to set him up for a superb overhead kick into the top left corner for the finish that crucially levelled the tie.
Despite that disappointment for The Reds, the result was right, insisted Swifts hero Ward.
Reds boss Eddie Patterson saw things differently.
“A stonewall penalty decision was turned down and that would have resulted in a red card, too, as the Swifts player was the last man. But we are not going to use that as an excuse as that didn’t lose us the game. Our own inept attempts at finishing cost us two points.
“We have had a tough time recently with two games every week, just one at home and including trips to Cork, Derry, Newry, Portadown and Dungannon. Unfortunately it is what the IFA have asked us to do and we have to do it.”
Ward countered: “We are happy with a point; we were good value for that,” he said. “After a disappointing display in the first half, I thought that we were still well in touch with the game. Conceding was a blow, but it forced us to get our game together.
“We created a series of chances, hit the woodwork and went very close on a number of occasions. The more the game went on, the more likely we looked to score —although I did feel that we were running out of time.”