Case of two points dropped for Cosgrove as Cliftonville are held to Stangmore stalemate

Dungannon's Jamie Glackin with Cliftonville's George McMullan
Dungannon's Jamie Glackin with Cliftonville's George McMullan

Tomas Cosgrove reflected on two points dropped by Cliftonville despite hitting a late equaliser to rescue a point at Stangmore Park.

The midfielder wasn’t in the mood for celebrating after the champions were held by Dungannon.

It was their fourth successive game without a win, and leaves them trailing new pacesetters Crusaders by seven points.

Although there is plenty of time to close that gap, the Reds look a shadow of the side that swept to glory in the last two seasons.

They were on the verge of another loss when Andrew Mitchell put Dungannon ahead in the 75th minute.

But Cosgrove, who scored in the sides’ last meeting in November, netted an equaliser three minutes from the end.

Asked how he viewed the result, he replied: “It’s two points dropped, of course.

“But it’s such a competitive league – anywhere you go, nobody is going to lie down and give you the points.

“Everyone is fighting for something. Dungannon are in a relegation battle, so they are fighting for points.

“Top or bottom, it makes no difference. Everyone wants to win.”

Cliftonville had the ball in the net early on but Joe Gormley’s close range finish, after a Martin Murray piledriver had been blocked, was disallowed for offside.

The match came to life in the second period as Dungannon grew in confidence.

Conor Devlin denied Kris Lowe, Jamie Glackin and Mitchell in quick succession.

But the goalkeeper was helpless when the latter finished off a terrific ball from Jamie Douglas with 15 minutes remaining.

The champions kept battling, and levelled in the 87th minute.

Martin Donnelly’s free-kick wasn’t dealt with. James Knowles’ shot fell short but Cosgrove was on hand to stab home a right-foot effort.

However, it was more a feeling of relief than celebration.

A poor December has seen Cliftonville lose ground in the title race, with this result following defeats against Glentoran and Crusaders, and a disappointing draw at Ballinamallard.

Boss Tommy Breslin has warned his players they need to up their game.

“We can’t switch it on and switch it off like a tap,” he said.

“The players know it’s not good enough. It is way, way below what we expect from them.”