The Swifts returned home on Saturday from Lisburn battered, bruised and on the end of the most diabolical refereeing display.
With no official ref for the game it’s in League rules that there should be a toss of the coin to decide who takes control from the 2 teams. Hillsborough refused to toss the coin when approached and were enforcing their guy to take charge. In hindsight Lurgan should’ve refused to play but it went ahead despite many concerns as to what was going to happen in the next 90 minutes.
The Swifts took the lead after 90 seconds when Niall McBride scored a cracking half volley. From this moment on the disgraceful tackles by grown men on 16/17 year olds occurred on a regular basis. Credit to the young Lurgan team they wanted to play football but it was becoming very clear Lurgan were never going to win this game. The half finished with Lurgan leading one nil.
In the second half Lurgan got a second when Niall setup Simon Wilson but from this moment on the referee (Hillsborough member) showed no protection to Lurgan players. There were head butts, fists thrown and kicks aimed all at Lurgan players. Not one Hillsborough player was booked or sent off. The ref then awarded Hillsborough a goal despite 2 players 4 yards offside. The only decision the ref correctly awarded was a penalty to Lurgan. However with normal penalty taker Lewis McKinley of the pitch it was left to Niall to take which he hit over the bar. The late tackles were still flying in with no action taken. Hillsborough equalised due to a deflection of a Swifts player. The ref completely came into his own from this moment. Hillsborough number 8 had lost the plot and was kicking all around him so the ref allowed Hillsborough coaching staff to substitute him instead of sending him off. Then Hillsborough player through on goal only to hit his shot wide and retrieve the ball to set it for Swifts goal kick but the ref awarded a corner which they took then he awarded a penalty from the resulting corner which was a total shock. The Swifts all knew they were being robbed but apart from walking off the pitch they couldn’t do much about it. However, they did keep going and got an equaliser when Jonny Turkington hit home after a scramble. The ref then decided to send off a Lurgan player just because he was trying to retrieve the ball for centre in search for a winner. The Swifts down to 10 men conceded with a couple of minutes left. Hillsborough may have won the game but it’s the young Swifts team that showed the maturity by not reacting. Hillsborough celebrated as if they had won the league when all that happened was they won a game by default against a group of young players that didn’t shirk challenges and had outplayed them.
All Swifts players were a credit to Lurgan Town as they played with guts and skill but unfortunately despite being the better team they lost a game due to something out of their control. A number of players could’ve got the player of the game with Simon Wilson, Dylan Hoy, Niall McBride, Adam Scorah and Ryan Blacoe just to name a few but it was Adam Leathem the pick of bunch as he was superb in midfield.
Coach Phil McKinley was disgusted at what he witnessed from the opposition but was so proud of the young Swifts team. We entered into the senior league this season and have performed with belief, strength, ability and courage against more mature opponents. The team have had some good competitive games to date with many opponents giving the young team praise. Well done LT Swifts we will rise above what happened on Saturday.