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Reds pay the penalty

Dungannon Swifts 2-1 Cliftonville

Cliftonville were unable to build on Garry Breen’s stunning equaliser as Dungannon Swifts claimed full points from this evening’s Danske Bank Premiership encounter at Stangmore Park.

Trailing to Douglas Wilson’s close-range finish at the interval, the Reds – who lost both Jamie Harney and Liam Bagnall to injury during the first-half – improved after the break and levelled courtesy of Breen’s sensational free-kick.

That sparked a further upturn in performance and Conor McMenamin was unlucky not to blast the visitors in front shortly afterwards; Sam Johnston making a smart save down to his right.

Having weathered that Cliftonville rally, Dungannon grew into the game again and the points could have gone either way during a very open conclusion to the contest, which was ultimately settled when Wilson netted from the penalty spot after a late handball award.

Despite a promising opening few minutes from Cliftonville, it quickly became apparent that the home side were dictating the pace of the game and they were unfortunate to see a Dylan O’Kane effort ruled out for offside due to a team-mate standing in front of goalkeeper Richard Brush.

It would not be long before they made the breakthrough, however, with Wilson finishing off from close range following Lorcan Forde’s low delivery.

Having failed to perform in the first-half, the Reds began the second period on the front foot and came close to levelling when Ryan Curran did well to connect with Thomas Maguire’s cross but saw his acrobatic effort drop just the wrong side of the post.

The equaliser arrived in outrageous fashion just before the hour when, awarded a free-kick some 30 yards from goal, Breen kept up to plant an unstoppable strike into the top corner.

McMenamin went close to turning the tie on its head when he forced Johnston into a save soon later but, as Cliftonville’s resurgence began to wane, Dungannon began to enjoy greater possession in the visitors’ half and they were rewarded six minutes from the end when referee Niall Gallagher – who had replaced Keith Kennedy at half-time – pointed to the spot following a handling offence by Ryan O’Reilly and Douglas stepped up to confidently find the net.

There was still time for Curran to see a header cleared off the line, while last-gasp penalty appeals for a foul on Joe Gormley fell on deaf ears as the Reds slipped to their second defeat in as many away games this term.

Cliftonville: Brush, McDermott, Breen, O’Reilly, Harney, C Curran, R Curran, McMenamin, Bagnall, Doherty, Maguire. Subs: Dunne, O’Connor (for Bagnall), Foster (for Harney), McKee, Gormley (for Maguire), Casey, Scannell.