Warrenpoint Town 1 Dungannon Swifts 1
Warrenpoint Town were relegated by a bizarre refereeing decision from Ross Dunlop as they conceded late on to draw with Dungannon.
Winning 1-0, Point defender Jordan Dane appeared to head clear and collided with Swifts’ Croamc Burke and with everyone in the ground thinking a free-kick was being given to the home side, Dunlop pointed to the spot.
Although Jonny Parr saved Ryan Harpur’s penalty and two follow ups, Andrew Mitchell was on hand to blast home the leveller to condemn Town’s fate.
It was the Swifts who made the brighter start to the match and could have gone ahead inside the opening 20 seconds. Warrenpoint’s Nathan Murphy onlyzpartially cleared a cross from the left but Cormac Burke could only head over the crossbar from inside the penalty area.
However, the hosts then found their feet and had a succession of chances to take the lead in this vital clash.
Murphy’s free-kick from the right saw Dungannon’s Dermot McCaffrey get to the ball ahead of Dermot McVeigh and the defender’s clearance whistled just past the post with keeper Stuart Addis stranded. From the resultant corner from Liam Bagnall, McVeigh saw his goalbound header cleared off the line by Jarlath O’Rourke. The rebound came to Conor McDonald inside the box but his low shot was beaten out by Addis only into the path of Murphy but he volleyed wildly over the bar from 15 yards.
After Martin Murray has scooped the ball high and wide after a surging forward run on 12 minutes, Addis had to be alert once again to deny Warrenpoint. Johnny McMurray found himself in space down the left, he let the ball run to the inrushing Murphy whose shot was blocked at point blank range by the Swifts stand-in keeper.
The more the half progressed, the more Rodney McAree’s men came into it and they had their first shot on target just past the midway stage of the half when O’Rourke came forward to crack in a low drive that ‘Point keeper Jonny Parr pushed away from goal at his right hand post.
The visitors then went even closer six minutes before the break with a neat move that should have resulted in Gary Liggett putting them in front.
A diagonal ball from the right was expertly laid off to the unmarked Liggett by Alan Teggart and while the striker’s shot did beat Parr, right-back Stephen Moan was superbly positioned to make a last-ditch clearance and set up a nailbiting second 45 minutes for Barry Gray’s men.
The home side began the second half on the front foot and after McMurray had screwed his effort wide, the on-loan Cliftonville forward went much closer on 50 minutes when he cut in from the right but his poked effort went wide of the left hand post.
Dungannon’s first opportunity of the half arrived shortly before the hour mark with Chris Hegarty heading just wide from a corner before Addis made another excellent stop at the other end on 62 minutes. Stephen Murray played in Martin Murray and although the winger held off his man, his close range effort was well blocked by the advancing Addis on the edge of his six-yard box.
Warrenpoint then spurned two glorious chances to go in front inside less than 60 seconds with sub Stephen Hughes volleying wide from 16 yards and then Conor McDonald burst through but could only fire wide when he should have at least hit the target.
However, they did break the deadlock on 77 minutes when McVeigh got a header on Liam Bagnall’s corner from the left and Hughes was on hand to volley into the roof of the net from inside the six yard box.
Warrenpoint Town: Parr, M Hughes, McVeigh, Murphy (Boyle 61), Moan, Bagnall, Dane, McDonald, McMurray (S Hughes 70), M Murray (Mulvenna 80), S Murray
Subs not used: Smith, Donnelly
Dungannon Swifts: Addis, Lowe, Hegarty, McCaffrey, Teggart, O’Rourke, Burke, Harpur, Wilson, Liggett (Mitchell 74), Fitzpatrick (Montgomery 74)
Subs not used: Coleman, McConnell, McDonald
Referee: Ross Dunlop (Newtownards)