Annagh miss out on Mid-Ulster glory

Dean Smith.INPT11-628
Dean Smith.INPT11-628

Annagh United suffered Mid-Ulster Cup misery at Holm Park for the second time as Dungannon Swifts recovered from a first-half deficit to seal victory over extra-time.

United lost to Newry City at the Armagh venue in 2007 and finished on the losing side tonight (Tuesday) as the Swifts’ Gary Liggett grabbed a hat-trick over normal and extra-time.

Liggett, the former Portadown striker, joined play around the hour mark as a substitute and levelled the tie on 83 minutes then wrapped up his treble across extra-time.

Annagh entered the final two divisions below the defending cup holders but enjoyed the upper hand over the first half.

Philip Craig tested the goalkeeper early on before Annagh picked up a penalty kick on three minutes. However, Shea Campbell - in contention for the Leading Goalscorer award in NIFL Championship Two - smashed the spot-kick off the crossbar.

Richard Allen, captain on the night for Annagh, cleared the crossbar with his header off a Paul Stretton corner-kick as the Tandragee Road side continued to press for an advantage.

It arrived on 32 minutes when a Stretton free-kick delivery created confusion in the Dungannon penalty area and both Craig and Pentland connected before the latter forced the loose ball home with a close-range finish.

Scott McCordick displayed clever footwork to secure a corner-kick for Annagh with a low drive and the subsequent delivery was blocked at the back post after Stephen Acheson’s volley.

Andrew Wright produced two smart stops over the first half to frustrate the Swifts but stepped into the spotlight after the break with a string of stunning saves as the senior side stepped up the pressure.

Annagh - under the guidance of Dean Smith, Alan Murphy and Darragh Peden - managed to remain resolute thanks to Wright’s heroics between the posts and a determined outfield display.

McCordick and Jaime Gardiner were presented with rare sights of goal and Annagh appeared on course for a memorable victory until Liggett made his mark in the closing 10 minutes.

A corner-kick was steered goalwards by Liggett at the back post and the looping effort dropped over the line off the underside of the crossbar.

McCordick attacked a superb delivery by Campbell in the closing moments but was unable to gain a decisive touch from a few yards.

Liggett, after waiting on the sidelines for his opportunity, wasted little time in extra-time and put the Swifts clear inside the opening 30 seconds of the first period with a composed finish.

His third of the night was added on 96 minutes with a simple shot into a gaping goal after another acrobatic save by Wright to initially block the Swifts attack.

ANNAGH UNITED: Andrew Wright, Jordan Bell, Paul Stretton, Stephen Acheson, Richard Allen, Bryan Pentland, Francis McCann, Philip Craig, Shea Campbell, Scott McCordick, Jaime Gardiner. Subs: Iain Latimer, Ryan Murphy (on for Gardiner, 85), Matthew Paget, Shea Skelton (on for Pentland, 82), Matthew Brown (on for McCann, 73).

DUNGANNON SWIFTS: Barrat Turker, David McCullough, Cameron Grieve, Ricky Copeland, Sean McCashin, Ryan Harpur, Chris Lavery, Matt Hazley, Jamie Glackin, Stefan Lavery, Mark Brolly. Subs: Gary Liggett (on for 62), Terry Fitzpatrick, Andrew Burns (on for McCullough, 52), Aaron Patterson (on for Glackin, 79), Fra Brennan.