Dungannon Swifts 1 Ballymena United 0
Ballymena’s miserable league run continued as they crashed to a narrow defeat at Dungannon.
It is now nine games without a win in the Danske Bank Premiership for the Sky Blues, who have slipped to third bottom.
Dougie Wilson, on his 26th birthday, scored the only goal of an entertaining game at Stangmore Park.
The win lifts the Swifts 12 points clear of the relegation places with just eight games to play.
After starting 2020 in real danger of slipping out of the division, Kris Lindsay’s side can surely now look forward to another season in the top flight.
Dungannon deservedly led at the break, with Wilson once again on target.
The defender is their top scorer, and so really should have been better marked when a free-kick was awarded in a dangerous area.
Daniel Hughes had been fouled and Mark Patton’s free-kick picked out Wilson, who had time and space to head in from six yards.
The Swifts carried the greater threat in the first half, with Patton a real source of creativity.
In the 20th minute he played a terrific ball to the back post, which Hughes could only direct wide of the goal.
Then a back pass from Josh Kelly inadvertently let in Hughes, but goalkeeper Ross Glendinning came rushing out to block well.
Shane McGinty also went close with a deflected shot after a well-worked free-kick routine.
The one concern for Dungannon was an injury to Hughes, who suffered a shoulder injury and had to go off in the first half.
Ballymena had barely threatened but had two big chances early in the second period.
First Reece Glendinning cut the ball back to Joseph McCready, whose low drive was turned aside by goalkeeper Sam Johnston.
From the corner, James Knowles’ delivery picked out Scot Whiteside, but his header crept narrowly past the back post.
Patton went close again for Dungannon, cutting in from the left and forcing Glendinning to parry behind.
Ballymena had more of the ball as the game progressed, pushing forward, searching for an equaliser, but the home defence stood strong.
DUNGANNON: Johnston, Coyle, King, Wilson, Teggart, McGinty, Smyth, Lowe, Patton (Campbell, 90), Carvill, Hughes (Waide, 36)
Subs not used: Byrne, Redman, McGinley, Brennan, Keke
BALLYMENA: Ross Glendinning, Reece Glendinning, Addis, Whiteside, McCullough, Knowles (Owens, 78), Balmer, Kelly, K Kane (Winchester, 60), McCready, Lecky
Subs not used: Williamson, A Kane, Burns, Warnock, Lewis
Referee: Christopher Morrison
Match rating: 7/10
MOTM: Dougie Wilson