The Swifts travelled to Strangford on Saturday the 20th December with no doubt that they would be in for a tough game. The early exchanges were cagey, with no real chances materialising for either team. As the game progressed Strangford were gaining the upper hand and with some slack defending to aid them, they took the lead with a good finish from their striker.
Ballynahinch pushed for an equaliser and when Bingham released Dalton Tate he delivered a great ball in for Aaron McCaffery to power the ball home from close range. Strangford again pushed forward and The Swifts were again guilty of some slack defending and as a result found themselves 3-1 down at the break and their heads were down.
A stern team talk from manager Davy Taggerty seemed to galvanise The Swifts and they came out with a different attitude and were attacking with menace.
Strangford had now adopted a more physical approach with some challenges that would have belonged more on a rugby pitch, but The Swifts would not be intimidated. After a strong spell of good attacking football, a long throw from Paul King fell to Massey and he stroked the ball home from inside the penalty area making it 3-2.
With the wind in their sails The Swifts were pushing for the equaliser and from a corner Dalton Tate delivered a dangerous ball in, which the Strangford defence could not deal with and the ball was met by their defender and ended up in the top corner making the score level at 3-3.
With both teams tiring the game was stretched and when Strangford broke on the right a cross was turned in from close range and Strangford were celebrating again with the score of 4-3 in Strangford’s favour.
With not long left on the clock The Swifts pushed tirelessly through with Matty Manley and Ben Wilson, and with Alan McMullan creating openings just like his younger brother Graeme did before he had to go off injured at half time.
Backed up by Shaun Bonner, Scott McNeil and Craig McMullan in defence The Swifts were looking dangerous. Dalton Tate was proving the thorn in Strangford’s side and when he broke free in the box he was chopped down for a penalty, which Alan Massey dispatched, and the score was 4-4 with a few minutes left.
Strangford pushed and pushed for the winner and with a great save from keeper McGreevy and a last ditch block from Ian Blackwood in the final moments the score finished level.
The Swifts will be pleased to have kept their unbeaten run going in a particularly difficult game and they showed they have character throughout the team, which they will need for the difficult games that will present themselves in the new year, starting with a top of the table clash at home to Ballyvea this Saturday the 3rd January.