Cliftonville 1, Ballinamallard Utd 0
DAVY McDaid admitted he thought he’d blown his big chance to be Cliftonville’s last action hero on Saturday.
Deep into added time and with Ballinamallard United clinging on for a precious point at Solitude, McDaid took receipt of a Jude Winchester header inside the area and, after a smart first touch had taken his marker out of the equation, his on-the-spin volley was easily fielded by visiting goalkeeper James McGrath.
Reds players, fans and management alike held their heads in their hands, despairing that their golden opportunity - with their first shot on target - had passed them by.
Little did they know, however, that McDaid would spark scenes of joyous celebrations little more than a minute later when he seized upon a Jason McGuinness flick, ghosted past Liam McMenamin and this time gave McGrath no chance with a confident dink over the advancing keeper and into the net just as the clock ticked towards the 96th minute of what had hitherto been an entirely unremarkable contest.
“I thought the chance I had just before it was the one,” said McDaid.
“I was able to take a touch and get my shot away but it was straight at the keeper. You always think you’ll get one good chance in a game like that and, to be honest, it looked like it was gone.
“Thankfully, we kept going and another chance came. This time I was able to take it and I think you could see all of our frustrations taken out in the celebrations afterwards.”
McDaid’s unorthodox expression of delirium - a two-footed lunge into the advertising hoardings - has certainly had fans across the Danske Bank Premiership landscape talking all weekend, but it’s fair to say Gavin Dykes would rather there had been no such talking point.
The Mallards boss praised his players for their efforts and said he was disappointed for them, rather than with them, following their last-gasp heartbreak.
“We had worked on things and changed our shape a little bit and it worked for the majority of the match,” he said.
“Cliftonville didn’t create anything over the course of the game, but we’ve had that one little lapse in the last few seconds and it’s cost us. I’m gutted for the players because they gave us everything.”