Ballymena United see off Dungannon Swifts

Ballymena's  Matthew Tipton.
Ballymena's Matthew Tipton.

Dungannon Swifts 0

Ballymena United 3

Two goals from Matthew Tipton saw Ballymena United remain top of the table after a comprehensive victory at Stangmore Park.

The striker, who arrived from Linfield in the summer, scored after seven minutes to give the Sky Blues an early lead against Dungannon.

After David Cushley had added a second just before the break, Tipton wrapped up the points when he made it 3-0 soon after the restart.

Swifts also lost full-back Cameron Grieve to a late red card.

It was Dungannon’s first defeat of the season, and they could have no complaints having been outplayed for most of the game.

The opening goal followed a shocking lapse in the home defence.

Andy Coleman played a short kick to Terry Fitzpatrick, but he dwelt on the ball and was robbed by Tipton, who ran through to slot home.

Dungannon had strong claims for a penalty in the 15th minute when Ryan Harpur was cut down in the box by Johnny Taylor – but it was ignored by the referee.

To add to Swifts’ grievances, Harpur was injured by the challenge and had to be replaced soon afterwards.

A sloppy first-half performance from Dungannon could have been further punished.

Dermot McCaffrey ducked out of clearing a long ball, not realising Tipton had run in behind him, but the striker placed his shot wide.

Later David Cushley outpaced McCaffrey, making up a three-yard start on the defender, before sending his low effort just past the back post.

Cushley drove a low strike across goal and wide while Tipton had an effort saved.

The visitors struck again on the verge of half-time. Cushley beat David Armstrong and McCaffrey for pace before scoring with a left-foot finish.

Ballymena continued to dominate after the break and made it 3-0 in the 50th minute.

Neal Gawley seized on a sloppy pass and delivered a superb cross to pick out Tipton, who scored with a diving header.

Tipton could have sealed his hat-trick soon afterwards but, after rounding the goalkeeper he saw his curling effort strike the back post.

Grieve was given a straight red card in the 89th minute for a late challenge on Mark McCullagh.

DGN SWIFTS: Coleman, Grieve, McCaffrey, Armstrong, Burns, Sanusi, Barton (S Lavery, 62), Glackin, Fitzpatrick, Harpur (Lowe, 18), Liggett (Mitchell, 55)

Subs not used: McCashin, Brennan

BALLYMENA: Nelson, McCullagh, Munster, Taylor, McBride, Gawley, Taggart (Surgenor, 54), Jenkins, Teggart (Ruddy, 84), Cushley (Boyce, 69), Tipton

Subs not used: Stewart, Harris

Referee: Ross Dunlop (Carrickfergus)