The Swifts continued their return to form with a win at Millbridge last Saturday against a workmanlike Annalong 2nds who played good football throughout.
The side were missing a number of regulars due to first team call ups and injury however those players who came in gave good accounts of themselves.
The game was very close in the first half with the best effort being a long range shot from Jay Smyth which was well saved while Johnny McGreevy had to twice palm shots away for corners. The Swifts had the best opportunity to take the lead when the ever reliable spot kick taker Alan Massey hit the cross bar from a penalty kick awarded by referee Alan McAvoy after Aaron McCaffrey had been upended by the Annalong keeper. Annalong almost took the lead themselves in the final minute of the first half when the ball rebounded off the Swifts cross bar with Johnny McGreevy well beaten.
In the second half the Swifts came out with a lot more purpose and they took the lead when Alan Masseyâ€™s 50th minute corner was side footed into the net by central defender Scott McNeill. Defensively the Swifts tightened up considerably with Greg Allison, Paul King, McNeill and Shaun Bonner decisive when called upon.
Jay Smyth in central midfield was ever lively and again brought a great save from the Annalong keeper with a second long range drive. Ross Bingham and Matthew Manly were causing a lot of problems on the wings while the hard running of Graeme McMullan and McCaffrey up front kept the Annalong defence busy. It was teenager Graeme McMullan who made it 2-0 when he ran onto a through pass to slot the ball under the advancing keeper.
The same player had another great opportunity late in the game but he placed the ball wide and his strike partner McCaffrey should have opened his account late on.
Substitutes Stuart Wilcox, John McMenamin and Lewis Lowey came on for the last quarter and they gave good accounts of themselves in what was a very good team performance which will have pleased manager Davy Teggarty.
The Swifts got back to winning ways with an excellent win at home to Ballynagross 2nds.
Manager Davy Teggartyâ€™s line up was restricted through the absence of experienced players Glynn Robinson, Johnny Stevenson and Gareth Bingham with injury. Indeed the teams early season form has been hampered by injury to key players and a series of defeats have resulted.
It was the Swifts who took the lead with a strike from Graeme McMullan however by half time Ballynagross were ahead by 2-1.
In the second half the Swifts lifted their game with David Kelly and Greg Allison prominent and they equalised from the penalty spot when Alan Massey was foulded and he gathered himself up to score from the spot.
Both teams chased the winner however the it was Ross “Chris” Bingham who won all the plaudits with his superb winning goal which made up for a glaring miss the previous week.
This was an excellent performance from the Swifts which must be repeated each week if the team are to challenge for honours. A number of players have broken into the team from the Albion and they are to be commended for their efforts particularly the youngsters.
Results elsewhere have meant that they still are in reach of the leaders with only a handful of points separating half a dozen teams.
The Swifts got back to league action with a home fixture at Drumaness Council Ground against league newcomers Banbridge YC. In a lively first half the Swifts took the lead from the penalty spot when Alan Massey converted after Aaron McCaffrey had been felled in the penalty area.
The visitors equalised with a shot from 25 yards and then took the lead when defender Ross Bingham was unlucky to head past keeper Johnny McGreevy. The Swifts got level when Graeme McMullan, on for the injured Johnny Stevenson, equalised.
David Kelly who was controlling midfield along with Gareth Bingham gave the home side the lead when he carried the ball half the length of the pitch before despatching a shot from twenty yards into the roof of the net.
In the second half the Swifts took control of the game with their defence of Ross Bingham, Glynn Robinson, Scott McNeill and John McMenamin performing in a more controlled manner while Greg Allison caused mayhem on the ring wing. Stuart Wilcox made the score 4-2 when he latched onto Alan Masseyâ€™s free kick and Graeme McMullan headed home a cross from Greg Allison to close the scoring at 5-2.
This was a good performance from an almost full strength side which saw the return from injury of Shaun Bonner when he made a second half appearance.
The Swifts play their first game of the season at Millbridge this week when they entertain Valley Rangers 3rds.
The Swifts travelled to Bear Park, Newcastle for this league encounter against Tollymore seconds. It was the visitors who enjoyed the majority of the opening exchanges controlling play for long periods of time with Johnny Stevenson holding the ball up well for strike partner Aaron McCaffrey while the midfield of Graeme McMullan, Gareth Bingham, Alan Massey and Greg Allison worked tireless in both attack and defence. The Swifts lost defender Shaun Bonner with an ankle injury on the half hour mark and he was replaced by Jamie McPhail.
The Swifts took the lead after thirty five minutes when a long free kick from Glynn Robinson flew over the heads of the Tollymore defence into the path of the Aaron McCaffrey who controlled the ball before gliding it into the net.
In the closing period of the half McMullan, McCaffrey, Stevenson, Allison and Bingham all had got efforts either saved or go wide of goal.
In the second half Tollymore started brightly causing the Swifts defence of Ethan Majury, Scott McNeill, Glynn Robinson and Jamie McPhail lots of problems however they held them at bay and slowly played their way back into the game.
Aaron McCaffrey gave his team a 2-0 lead after fifty minutes when he converted a loose ball after great work from Stevenson. Indeed Stevenson should have been awarded a penalty after he was bundled over from behind inside the six yard area.
The two goal lead was never going to be enough and when Tollymore scored on the hour mark the alarm bells started to ring and never more so when they hit the post with a header that looked for all the world as if it was going in. A few saves from Johnny McGreevy were required as well before the two goal margin was restored when Johnny Stevenson crashed the ball home after great interplay between Bingham, Massey and Allison.
This was a very good display against a workmanlike Tollymore side that were well served by veteransRay Kendall and Mark Hughes and a number of young players who displayed excellent ball skills. Swifts manager Davy Teggarty will be happy with the result and a lot of the general play however he will know that his team were wasteful in front of goal.
The Albion produced aÂ five starÂ performance against what was a fairly experienced Saintfield AYC reserve side.
The home side took the lead when Shaun BonnerÂ fired in a twenty yardÂ pile driver from the left side of midfield. Not long after it was 2-0 when Steven Bridges followed up on an Alan Massey long range shot which the Saintfield keeper had parried to head the ball over the line.
Saintfield AYC got back into the game when they scored direct from a corner but Alan Massey continued his good scoring form whenÂ he converted a penalty resulting from a hand ball offence from a defender after good work fromÂ CiaranÂ Bonner and Ross Bingham.
Early in the second half Steven Bridges made it 4-1 with a dash into the penalty area and a lob over the keeper. The visitors got a goal back to make it 4-2 but Graeme McMullan continued his good scoring form with a fifth goal. A third goal from the visitors did nothing to take away the euphoria of the home side to secure a very good three points.
In addition to those already named there were good performances all over the park with defendersÂ Paul King, Scott McNeill and John McMenamin providing excellent cover forÂ keeper Johnny McGreevy while in midfield Stuart Wilcox worked his socks off all afternoon. Substitutes Jordan Hayes, Matthew Murnin and Gareth Scott made significant contributions.
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