A piece of club history took place on Saturday 1st September 2018 when the club fielded a third senior team (Lurgan Town Swifts). The team’s first official game was a trip to Gilford Crusaders Reserves. The only negative from the day was not having an official referee. The starting eleven consisted of 10 players 18 or under with team captain Alan Stokes bringing up the average age.
Coach Phil McKinley asked the players to start on the front foot and to play without fear even though their opponents had more experience. It was almost the perfect start when Niall McBride had a chance to put the Swifts in the lead after 2 mins then he also rattled the post after 5 mins. However, despite a couple of missed chances Niall got himself a brace with the first goal in the 9th minute and a second after 13 minutes. Lewis McKinley then had an excellent shot that hit the crossbar and it fell to Simon Wilson but the keeper made a save from his effort. There were other opportunities with Morgan Smyth going close and Alan Stokes unlucky to find the top of the netting with an audacious 25 yard shot with the keeper of his line. Denver Elliott was enjoying himself in the centre of midfield as he was showing some excellent skill. Gilford struggled to get into the game as the Swifts back 3 of Jack O’Neill, Morgan Smyth and Oliver Millar were in total control and well supported by keeper Joshua Pugh. The wing backs of Tim Millen and Ryan Blacoe were providing plenty of width and attacking play.
The second half witnessed a different start as Gilford applied early pressure and this almost give them a way back into the game within 40 seconds of the restart. The Swifts got over a few early errors to create numerous chances with Morgan Smyth and Tim Millen linking up well on the right. Tim hit several good crosses into the box but unfortunately his teammates were caught on the back foot therefore not reacting or when shots were got on target they were getting blocked by last ditch defending. Chances came and went as Ryan Blacoe, Niall McBride, Lewis McKinley, Morgan Smyth and Jack O’Neill nearly got the all important third goal. Lurgan lost the influential Alan Stokes to an injury with 30 minutes and this allowed Gilford back into the game. The young Swifts team were struggling to kill the game off with gaps and mistakes starting to appear as a little panic set in. Gilford did get a goal back and almost got a second but the strikers shot was blocked by his own teammate. The Swifts held out to win their first official league game by 2 goals to 1.
There were a few individuals that stood out however player of the game was Morgan Smyth. Well done to the team in picking up all 3 points. Also credit to Gilford as they didn’t give up despite it being a one sided first half.