Warrenpoint Town and Dungannon Swifts served up an afternoon of entertainment and intrigue measured far beyond the simple statistics of shared spoils thanks to two goals inside as many minutes around the half-hour mark.
Johnny Lafferty’s assured strike off a superb angled Mark Patton pass broke the deadlock before a rapid response by Warrenpoint led to Alan O’Sullivan converting an equaliser.
That quickfire burst offered an end product to each side missing across the rest of the game but it was a fixture that proved packed with periods of energy alongside evidence of two young managers each imposing ambitious ideas in pursuit of points to rise up the senior rankings.
For Warrenpoint, possession remains priority under Stephen McDonnell and Kris Lindsay’s Dungannon Swifts side is starting to take shape as the reflection of the drive and determination that dominated his successful playing career.
“Warrenpoint were the better team over the first 20 minutes and we looked a bit nervous,” said Lindsay. “But we played our way into it and started to produce some nice football then got a good goal, only to concede a minute and a half or so later.
“Johnny (Lafferty) was good today with his hold-up play and a great finish, he won his headers and brought others into play so now it’s about getting him a little bit more into the box.
“Aaron McCarey pulled off a world-class from Grant Hutchinson when he got his fingertips to it and pushed it on to the bar.
“To be fair, he’s been doing that week in, week out, he’s a top goalkeeper.
“Mark Patton was outstanding.
“It was more like our performance in the second half and I felt over that period we were the better team.
“It got a bit stretched towards the end with both going for it but we are disappointed not to have come away with the three points.
“But away from home we will take a point and move on.
“We want to win our home games and if we can continue to put in performances and pick up points on the road I’ve no doubt we will move up the table.
“It’s really tight around the bottom and will not change, probably for the rest of the season as it’s so nip-and-tuck, with teams picking up unexpected points.
“But all we can do is look after Dungannon and look to put points on the board every game.
“It will be tight come the end of season but it is up to us to make sure we are producing our own performance levels.”
McDonnell was also left to reflect on an outcome that failed to fully satisfy after a display packed with positives.
“It was a good game and entertaining,” he said. “I felt we edged it over the 90 minutes and created two or three really, really good chances but didn’t take them.
“But the main thing was not to lose today and it keeps our unbeaten run going, which is important for us to prove a tough nut to crack.
“We concede from us in possession again, I know we are going to take chances but it’s a decision-making process on the ball.
“We were in our own half, chose to try and screen and dribble but got our pocket picked then one ball does us.
“We will always press against any team but must make these decisions in the right areas.
“We responded well, I felt the energy was good in the first half especially up until Dungannon’s goal, with the same in the last 10 or 15 minutes of a second half flat until that stage.
“We had that late chance when Francis (McCaffrey) squared to Alan (O’Sullivan) and nine times out of 10 a striker scores but Alan has been fantastic all year.
“It’s interesting for the neutral when you look at the bottom but I still believe we’re packed with quality and will show that over 38 games.”