Dungannon Swifts 1 Glentoran 1
Given the match ended 1-1, it's obvious there were no winners at Stangmore Park on Saturday. What was unusual, though, is that both were actually losers when two of the top teams went head-to-head in perfect conditions.
A point apiece was scant reward for their parts in a scintillating match, but more annoying was that 10-man Swifts lost their proud perch at the summit of the league table to Crusaders, while Glentoran forfeited their 100 per record on their travels.
The Glens enjoyed more possession than their hosts but struggled against a defence that had conceded just four times in seven starts.
Swifts winger Marc McCann opened the scoring on 12 minutes after he met a cross from Mickey Ward.
Glentoran huffed and puffed going forward but found that, anytime they did get in on goal, home keeper Alvin Rouse was more than up for the challenge.
The decisive moment in the game came seven minutes into the second half, a second yellow card for Swifts centre half Adam McMinn a serious handicap for the home team that was also an equally massive boost for the away side.
Even so, Glentoran struggled to make the advantage count as pressure from waves of advances was soaked up by Dungannon, as every player turned defender.
A goal eventually came, Daryl Fordyce heading a Keith Gillespie cross past Rouse with 15 minutes to go.
In his post-match reflection, Swifts boss Dixie Robinson was critical of the referee.
“I have mixed emotions and I suppose the main one is frustration at the refereeing decision which I feel needlessly robbed us of a player.
“You wince at some of the challenges in the game and then something as innocuous as trying to shepherd the ball out of play warrants a costly yellow card and it is gutting.
“I thought that, after going down to 10 men, for about 20 minutes I didn’t see the Glens creating much and I thought that we dealt with the loss quite well before fatigue set in.
“We were hanging on at the end. I am relieved to get a point but disappointed to have a man sent off. The referee spoilt the game” added Robinson.
Glens manager Alan McDonald was similarly disappointed with the result, but his view on the dismissal was very different.
“I am not happy with a point as their goalkeeper saved them with four or five good saves.
“I thought the player should have been sent off earlier. I don’t think there can be any complaints that he deserved to go and it obviously had an impact on the game.
“But, fair play to Dungannon for the way that they dealt with that. They stuck at it and, if I am being honest, for the chances that we had, I would have expected to score two or three more goals,” insisted the Oval boss.