A young Swifts team took on league leaders Derryhirk Reserves on Saturday. The average age for the Swifts was just over 17 with Luke Glenn the senior player at 21 and debutant Matthew Maye 16. The Derryhirk team were strong with a number of players with first team experience.
The experience certainly was on show in the first 25 minutes of the game as Derryhirk played like a team that’s top of the table. Lurgan were 2 behind after 25 minutes with a defensive mistake for the first goal and a poor clearance for the second that witness a good finish by the Derryhirk player. Lurgans confidence grew as the half drew to a close with Niall McBride, Luke Glenn, Lewis McKinley and Simon Wilson all having efforts on goal plus Morgan Smyth on 2 occasions from Lewis McKinley corners not getting his headers on target. In defence Jack O’Neill was excellent and Josh Pugh was having a good half in goal.
There was a change of formation at the start of the second half with Lurgan going to a 4-5-1. The Swifts scored within 50 seconds of the restart when a ball into the penalty was spilled by the Derryhirk keeper. The ball dropped to Lewis McKinley which he composed himself to lob over the stranded keeper and defender. Morgan Smyth was linking up superbly with a rejuvenated Callum Watkins down the right side. It was right back Morgan who took past 3 players along the goal line to cross for Luke Glenn to fire in the equaliser. Derryhirk had lost the control of the game that they had in the first half but were still a threat when they attacked. For the most part Morgan Smyth, Ryan Blacoe, Dylan Hoy and Substitute Jay McPolin dealt with most attacks however another mistake allowed a third goal for Derryhirk. Josh Pugh then made a super save plus 2 last ditch tackles from Jay McPolin and Morgan Smyth kept the score at 3-2. Lurgan introduced Denver Elliott and Matthew Maye on the left side which they linked up well to put pressure on Derryhirk. The Swifts were on the attack when a long clearance from Derryhirk caught them out of position to concede a fourth.
Despite losing the game to an excellent team the Swifts put in a super display considering 10 players played for the u19s in the morning. Defensively it was good to have Captain Morgan back plus Jack O’Neill was super. In midfield Adam Leathem had another good game as he give freedom to Luke Glenn and Simon Wilson. Callum Watkins had a great second half which he was a constant threat and Lewis McKinley was showing great vision as he got on the ball to spread passes over and through the Derryhirk defence. Keeper Josh Pugh had a good game with a couple of great saves.
There are times when you lose a game but can still be pleased with performance and this was one of those occasions. Overall Derryhirk deserved the win but they had to battle hard for a victory. Thanks to Jason Pugh for officiating another game due to a continuing issue with a shortage of official referees.