Braidmen show their mettle to hold off 10-man Swifts
Dungannon Swifts 2-3 Ballymena United
Daniel Hughes scored his first Dungannon goals - but Ballymena took the spoils at Stangmore Park last night.
The striker, signed in January, struck twice, including a sublime right-foot lob. However, it was David Jeffrey's side who triumphed on a night of drama.
This was a game which had everything - great goals, some wonderful attacking football and even a red card.
Hughes cancelled out Jonny McMurray's early strike with that stunning chip, but goals from Tony Kane and Leroy Millar took the game away from the Swifts.
Hughes scored again, but the dismissal of Paul McElroy ruined hopes of a comeback.
It was a small measure of revenge for Ballymena, who lost when the sides met in the League Cup final last month.
Recent matches between these sides have been high-scoring affairs, and this was no different. Ballymena took the lead in the 12th minute when McMurray brilliantly took down a pass from Kane, killed the ball with one touch and finished.
But Dungannon hit back immediately through the impressive Hughes, who chipped the goalkeeper with a stylish effort. Ross Glendinning got a hand to it, but it wasn't enough.
The match shifted from end to end in a frantic opening and in the 24th minute the visitors went back in front.
Dougie Wilson was penalised for bringing down Conor McCloskey outside the area and Kane curled a sublime right-foot effort around the wall and past Andy Coleman in the home goal.
An entertaining match moved up a level in the second half, and Ballymena made it 3-1 in the 53rd minute as Kane crossed to Millar, who headed home from close range.
The Swifts battled on and pulled one back when Hughes scored his second of the night when Harpur's free-kick into the box was turned back across goal and the striker stabbed home from close range.
But there was drama on the hour mark when a scuffle ended with McElroy sent off, and two others booked.
Dungannon, a man down, rarely threatened a comeback.
DGN SWIFTS: Coleman, Lowe, Armstrong, Wilson (Teggart, 81), O'Rourke, Hutchinson (Clucas, 40), Harpur, Mayse (Burke, 72), Patton, McElroy, Hughes.
Subs not used: Addis, Fitzpatrick
Scorers: Hughes (2); Red card: McElroy
BALLYMENA: Glendinning, Burns, Ervin, Owens, Quigley, Kane, McCloskey (McKinney, 90), Millar, McCullough, Friel, McMurray (Shevlin, 71).
Subs not used: Faulkner, Weir, McCaffrey
Scorers: McMurray, Kane, Millar
Referee: Tony Clarke (Newtownabbey)