THE Swifts Reserves returned to league action on Saturday past, travelling to Loughgall to do battle with bottom side Armagh Blues Reserves.
The visitors were stripped and ready to warm up when the call came through that Armagh Blues were in Ardmore Park, Armagh awaiting kick off. The squad of 14 plus supporters made a quick dash to Armagh, annoyed at being sent to the wrong venue.
The league leaders wasted no time in punishing the Armagh outfit, a spectacular ball from Alex Scott met the run of Niall Maginn at the back post, he emphatically volleyed past the keeper to open the scoring. Five minutes later Gary O’Reilly picked the ball up on the right hand side, beat two defenders and fired across goal, the ball met both posts on it’s way in the net.
It wasn’t long before the third arrived, Conan Power lofted a ball into the path of Ryan Hillen’s well timed run, the lively striker had enough composure to cushion a volley over the keeper and into the net to make it 3-0.
The remainder of the half passed with a pattern of attacks from the visitors, the pick being a neat series of passes in midfield ending with a spectacular strike from Daryl O’Reilly, his effort ricocheted off the crossbar much to the despair of the captain. Armagh Blues rarely threatened, but Jackson Lawson and Scott held firm and were a starting point for every attack.
Half-time allowed an opportunity to refocus and the Swifts Reserves came out with a more clinical attitude. Strong attacking play through midfield by Power, Ward and O’Reilly created multiple chances for Gary O’Reilly and Ryan Hillen, the latter was hauled down by the keeper when through on goal. Daryl O’Reilly stepped up but saw his weak effort saved by the keeper. A good ball by Hollingsworth was met by Lawson in the box, he bundled the ball over the line to spark further celebrations.
A second penalty of the afternoon was awarded for handball on the line, Niall Maginn struck well for his second. Ryan Hillen was also felled in the area as the Armagh Blues side struggled to cope with the constant onslaught, Hillen took the resulting spotkick and converted well for his second and the Swifts Reserves fifth.
The introduction of Stephen Brady added a natural attacking threat to the left hand side, the young winger was an immediate threat feeding Gary O’Reilly who finished well to put himself in the running for a hat-trick. Another penalty was awarded and Daryl O’Reilly was given the opportunity to make amends, he made no mistake making it 8-0.
The race for a hat-trick was won by Ryan Hillen, who broke through and rounded the keeper and neatly finished. It was made a perfect 10 when Hillen’s corner was headed out of the area, Ward directed the ball onto the oncoming run of Monaghan who fired into the top corner from 25 yards.
In the end Armagh Blues didn’t offer much in the way of a challenge to the title contenders, having said that the Swifts Reserves maintained a focus and continued to play their expressive style of football.
Next week the Swifts travel to Dungannon for what will be a difficult fixture, but titles are not won without challenges.