28th January 2023, 3pm
Dungannon’s fine run of home form was brought to an abrupt end by a ruthless Coleraine side on Saturday, but the 3-0 scoreline did not tell the full story.
The Swifts matched the visitors for much of the game but conceded late in both halves to miss the chance to record a sixth straight win at Stangmore and climb out of the league’s bottom two.
Instead it was to be a ninth consecutive victory for the Bannsiders over Dungannon as they extended their unbeaten run in league and cup to 14.
The home side had lined out with four changes from the team hit by six at Glentoran last Tuesday, with Michael Ruddy, Cahal McGinty, Gerarda Bruna and Joe McCready coming in for Steven Scott, Padraig Lynch, Ryan Mayse and Oran O’Kane.
Coleraine were missing midfielder Jamie Glackin through suspension and Conor McKendry with injury, with Lee Lynch and recent signing Andrew Scott promoted to the starting 11.
From the kick-off there was no sign of the frailties on display at the Oval. Dungannon played with intensity and tested the Bannsiders’ backline with probing balls for the pacy Rhyss Campbell and Marc Walsh, although there were no clear-cut chances created by either side.
Caolan Marron and Mayowa Animasahun marshalled the defence and maintained a disciplined high line which repeatedly caught the Coleraine attack offside.
The Swifts did come within inches of taking the lead in the final minute of the half, when a ball sprayed out left by James Knowles was collected by Bruna and his low cross was deflected onto the bar by Coleraine skipper Stephen O’Donnell.
In stoppage time, however, it was the visitors who took the lead when Scott released top scorer Matthew Shevlin with a perfectly weighted pass and his shot was partially blocked by Declan Dunne, only to trickle agonisingly over the line as the keeper and McGinty both desperately tried to intervene.
The second half was a similar story, with Dean Shiels’ men enjoying possession but limited penetration and feeling themselves hard done-by when the second goal eventually came.
Cahal McGinty appeared to have been pushed over in the 81st minute before conceding a corner but despite appeals, play was allowed to continue.
Lynch’s resulting delivery was not cleared and fell to Coleraine subsitute Eamon Fyfe inside the six-yard box and he managed stab it in.
Dungannon played with more urgency, with Mayse coming close from distance, but the visitors extended their lead in the 89th minute when a Josh Carson cutback allowed the prolific Shevlin to slot home his 19th league goal of the season and 50th for the club.
Later he would be denied a hattrick when a header bounced onto the crossbar, while the Swifts had attempts from substitutes Padraig Lynch and Joe Moore.
Afterwards, Dungannon boss Dean Shiels rued the late first-half goal, which originated from a throw-in at the other end of the field.
“We were probably the better side in the first half but we concede one minute into injury time and they don’t, and that’s the momentum swing.”
He said the 3-0 scoreline flattered Coleraine, as his side took risks in the last 10 minutes to secure a point, and paid tribute to the team’s efforts.
“The effort of the players was everything, they gave everything they had. Second half we came out and responded well, we looked to play on the front foot again. I think we dominated the ball throughout the game, we took the ball off Coleraine, but in the last third they had more quality than us.”
Coleraine coach Oran Kearney said he had expected a reaction from Dungannon after the heavy defeat to Glentoran and praised his players for standing firm in the first half.
“They were patient to a man and at times, like a game of chess, we had to hold a certain area of the pitch and a certain territory, and wait and wait and wait and be patient and not get caught and not give them any injections or any big great hope more than anything else, and to a man I thought we were brilliant.”
Next up for Dungannon is a visit to Knockbreda in the fourth round of the Irish Cup, followed by an away trip to Crusaders in the league.
The Swifts then return to Stangmore three days later for a Valentine’s night date with second-place Larne.
Dungannon: Dunne, Marron, Knowles, McCready (Mayse, 62), Campbell, McGinty, Walsh (Moore, 73) , Ruddy (O’Kane, 73), McGee, Animasahun, Bruna (Lynch, 82). Unused subs: Nelson, Francis, Scott
Coleraine: Deane, Kane, Jarvis, Brown, McCrudden (Fyfe, 76), Carson (McLaughlin, 90), O’Donnell, Lynch, McDermott (Jarvis, 19), Shevlin, Scott (Carlin, 90). Unused subs: Gallagher, Mullan, Farren
Referee: Ben McMaster
Man of the Match: Mayowa Animasahun
Match Report: Aeneas Bonner