Rejuvinated Swifts bounce back to see off Lurgan Celtic

THE Swifts made the short journey to Gordon Playing Fields in Lurgan to play Lurgan Celtic in only their seventh league game of the campaign.

Following on from last week’s second half demolition at the hands of a rampant Armagh Rovers in the Mid-Ulster Shield, confidence was rock bottom.

The Swifts did, however, welcome back Toal and Murray from first team duties and Hollingsworth and Heslip from unavailability.

Jonny Jackson, who impressed last week, continued at centre half. Captain Megaw was missing from the line-up and the Swifts did lack a little bit of leadership at times, especially in the first half.

The first half began as the second had ended last week with the commitment levels low and desire almost non-existant.

Celtic were a young side who knocked the ball around with confidence and retained possession well with the swifts having to settle for breakaway attacks in the opening period.

The home side took the lead when a corner taken quickly caught the defence unawares and the ball was fired across the six yard box with the keeper coming but missing the cross and the Celtic striker easily nodded in between Gilmore and McComish who were on the posts.

Neither side created any meaningful chances in the remainder of the half and the swifts management were happy to finally get the lads in for a dressing down.

The second half began with the Swifts immediately bringing the game to there opponents. For long periods the Swifts dominated the home side and were intent on getting back into the game.

Heslip dropped back into a central midfield role in front of Gilmore and this was instrumental in the Swifts gaining control of the match. This combination worked perfectly allowing the wide players to foray forward and cause the Celtic rear gaurd no end of trouble.

The Swifts got a deserved equaliser from a freekick following a foul on Maginess. From 30 yards out Heslip tested the home keeper with a fierce drive. The keeper saw the strike late and the ball managed to squirm under him to the delight of the rejuvenated Swifts.

Rathfriland were in complete control and any Celtic counter attacks were easily snuffed out by Jonny Jackson and Alan Murray in the heart of the swifts rearguard.

McComish and Connell Jackson were pushing forward and joining in with the attacks to good effect. Heslip’s presence was allowing Gilmore to find space in midfield to keep the ball moving to stretch the Celtic defence. Neat interplay involving Heslip Gilmore and Johnston saw Heslip play a one two with Gilmore and fire an unbelievable strike against the foot of the post from 25 yards out with the keeper well beaten.

The Swifts could smell blood and were relentless in their search for a winner.

It finally came when Maginess found Gilmore unmarked from a throw-in with the latter controlling the ball and floating a delightful cross deep to the back post where Hollingsworth rose highest to square across goal with a header where Toal reacted sharpest to seal the win with only seconds remaining.

After a poor opening period the Swifts were lucky to still be in the game but deserved victory for the way they battled in the second half.

Team: Curran, C. Jackson (capt.), Murray, J. Jackson, McComish, Gilmore, Johnston, Hollingsworth, K. Megaw, Toal, Heslip, Sub. Maginess.