Off-pace Cliftonville lucky to sneak point: Breslin
Dungannon Swifts 1 Cliftonville 1: Cliftonville boss Tommy Breslin admitted his side was lucky to get a point from an all-action affair at Stangmore Park.
"We didn't play well, not nearly as well as we can. We didn't create enough, didn't dominate and, if we had scored late on, we wouldn't have deserved the win.
"I thought Dungannon gave a good account of themselves. It took their goal to spur us into life. If we had have had that reaction before the goal, maybe the result would have been different."
Swifts though remain unbeaten at home to stay in touch with the cream of the crop in the league to the delight of manager Darren Murphy.
"I have got to be happy with a point, we played the best team in the country," he said.
"We have been able to compete and create chances and there are positives to take from it.
"When we went ahead and Cliftonville came back at us and got the equaliser, the players defended well. After our goal sparked a Cliftonville response, we created three chances late in the day."
And Murphy, who described his side recently as doing the dirty bits and winning ugly, was pleased the game was entertaining for their biggest crowd of the season.
"Anyone who watched the game will have enjoyed it. The teams went at each other from the start which is good for the paying fans, if not for managers – although I enjoyed it."
Swifts, on top for long periods, were denied a quick lead when Jamie Douglas headed Darren Boyce's cross onto the bar, Shane Mulgrew's rebound deflected into keeper Conor Devine's arms.
Ryan Harpur and Michael McKerr also went close before Clftonville's first chance, a free kick from Liam Boyce that needed help from Gareth Buchanan to go over. The Swifts keeper repeated his skill to deny Martin Donnelly on the stroke of half-time.
Swifts deserved their lead on 64 minutes when a free from sub Matt Hazley was spilled by Devlin, with Darren Boyce diving in to head the loose ball home.
The Reds equalised eight minutes later when Liam Boyce rolled the ball to Ciaran Caldwell for a smashing finish at the second attempt.
In stoppage time both sides had a chance to sneak a win; Boyce going agonisingly close to his second at the end of a superb counter-attack, while Donnelly poked a shot just beyond the home post in the final seconds.
"That is my fourth goal in six games which is pleasing" said Swifts' on-loan Coleraine player Boyce.
"I came to get games. It is two or three years since I had a good run in a team. Coming to Dungannon isn't a step back, just to the side. At Glentoran, if you hadn't scored after 60 minutes, you were taken off. It's good to get a good manager like Darren Murphy who sticks by me."
DUNGANNON: Buchanan, McKerr, Brennan, McCaffrey, Grieve, McCullough, Fitzpatrick, Harpur, Mulgrew, Douglas, Boyce. Subs: S Lavery (for Douglas, 66 mins), Copeland, Hutchinson (for McCullough, 83 mins), Doyle, Hazley (for Mulgrew, 61 mins).
CLIFTONVILLE: Devlin, McGovern, R Scannell, Johnston, McNally, Garrett, Donnelly, McNeill, Gormley, Cosgrove, Boyce Subs: Caldwell (for McGovern, 37 mins), McMullan, O'Carroll, Curran (for McNeill, 61 mins), Murray (for Gormley, 86 mins)
Referee: Tim Marshall (Irvinestown)