Tempers boil over
It was another late, late show as Joshua Cahoon struck a dramatic equaliser to rescue Dungannon Swifts in a chaotic finale at Stangmore Park, writes Adrian Rutherford.
For 89 minutes it had been a relatively comfortable afternoon for Linfield, who seemed to be coasting to victory following David Armstrong’s early strike.
But then as the clock ticked into stoppage time, it all went catastrophically wrong.
First they saw Billy-Joe Burns needlessly sent off for lashing out at Adam McMinn, before Cahoon scored his now customary equaliser.
It sparked joyous scenes on the Dungannon bench, while David Jeffrey could only shake his head in disbelief after another big setback for the champions.
That wasn’t the end of the drama, however, as players and staff from both teams were embroiled in a brawl moments after the final whistle sounded.
The referee deemed Armstrong and Terry Fitzpatrick the main culprits, and both were given red cards after the match.
Yet it was Cahoon’s heroics which should grab the headlines.
This was the fourth time the striker had scored in stoppage time this season, but netting against his favourite team made it all the more special.
“It was good to score,” Cahoon said. “I’m a Linfield supporter, I’ve followed them all my life, and it was nice to score a goal against them to get a point for us.
“It’s all the more special to score against them, it feels good and I think we deserved it.”
Cahoon believed Dungannon performed well against a strong Linfield side.
“I thought the boys were super,” he added. “We worked hard and a draw was a fair result. We deserved to get something from the game.”
Linfield boss Jeffrey was not so sure, claiming his side could have won by six goals.
“We had enough chances and should have taken them, but there was a blatant push on Jamie Mulgrew in the lead-up to the equaliser,” he said.
“We dominated and if we had won the game 5-0 or 6-0 it wouldn’t have been an injustice, but when it’s only 1-0 there is still that opportunity.”
Linfield were ahead after 12 minutes through that spectacular Armstrong strike.
The defender picked the ball up 25 yards from goal and took a touch before smashing a right-foot effort into the top corner.
But it proved a frustrating day for the Blues, who missed chance after chance to extend their lead.
Armstrong headed Niall Quinn’s free-kick just over while Peter Thompson and Brian McCaul both went close in the opening 45 minutes.
Niall Morgan – later singled out for praise by Jeffrey – produced several impressive stops to keep Dungannon in the game after half-time.
First he stretched out a hand to block Burns’ header before producing a fine double-save to thwart Burns and Damian Curran in quick succession.
But as the game wore on, Dungannon began to push for an equaliser.
Ryan O’Neill drew a good stop from the goalkeeper with a 20-yard snapshot while a long-range drive from Chris Lavery also tested Alan Blayney.
Yet Linfield were never really troubled – until the final moments, starting with Burns’ dismissal.
Then, with the clock ticking down, a poor clearance fell perfectly for Cahoon, an 80th minute replacement, and he swept home the equaliser.
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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