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Darren Murphy cries foul as Cliftonville steal late win over Dungannon Swifts


Agony and ecstasy: Stephen Garrett and Jaimie McGovern celebrate amid Dungannon protests

Agony and ecstasy: Stephen Garrett and Jaimie McGovern celebrate amid Dungannon protests

Agony and ecstasy: Stephen Garrett and Jaimie McGovern celebrate amid Dungannon protests

Dungannon Swifts 1 Cliftonville 2: Cliftonville boss Tommy Breslin was every bit as relieved with this victory as opposite number Darren Murphy was angered by it.

He felt his Dungannon Swifts side had fallen victim to refereeing decisions which paved the way for the visitors to roar from behind and reclaim top spot in the Danske Bank Premiership with a dramatic late victory.

Ahead through Chris Lavery's 48th minute conversion, the Swifts were pegged back when Diarmuid O'Carroll poked home from close range – but not before a foul from Barry Johnston in the build up, claimed the hosts – ahead of Stephen Garrett's 88th minute strike sealing all three points for the champions amid claims of handball from Murphy's deflated battlers.

"The first goal came after a blatant foul on Johnny Topley," raged the home gaffer.

"The guy bodychecked him to get him out of the way and allowed space for them to get the cross into the box to score.

"And the second goal was a handball – my players are adamant, you can see by their reaction.

"Our goalkeeper chased the referee 40 yards upfield and that says enough for me."

Cliftonville, who were forced to compete minus the services of suspended trio Marc Smyth, Liam Boyce and Joe Gormley, started the afternoon in bristling fashion and saw an O'Carroll attempt charged down before Martin Donnelly's cheeky chip came back off the crossbar.

Martin Murray, Eamonn Seydak and the impressive Chris Curran all drew saves from home custodian Gareth Buchanan ahead of Murray nodding wide of the mark from a Donnelly cross.

Dungannon's first real opportunity came three minutes into the second period and they made it count – Lavery converting at the second attempt after Conor Devlin had repelled his initial effort.

O'Carroll showed good strength to level shortly afterwards and Garrett's late impact thrilled Breslin.

"Fair play to Dungannon; they were well organised and made it hard for us, but I am delighted to have come down here and won three points," he said. "We weren't just as sharp as in recent weeks. I think that the players are dropping their performances by two or three per cent against perceived lesser teams. But teams will exploit it as we saw in this game."

DUNGANNON: Buchanan, McMinn, Fitzpatrick, Topley, Lowe, Hazley, C Lavery, Glackin, Liggett, S Lavery, Hutchinson. Subs: Turker, Harpur, McCullough, Brennan (for McMinn, 67 mins), Tomelty (for S Lavery, 65 mins).

CLIFTONVILLE: Devlin, McGovern, Johnston, McNally, McMullan, Donnelly, O'Carroll, Seydak, Catney, Curran, Murray. Subs: R Scannell, Caldwell, C Scannell (for Donnelly, 80 mins), Garrett (for Murray, 63 mins), Winchester (for Johnston, 72 mins)

Referee: Tim Marshall (Irvinestown)

Belfast Telegraph