IRISH LEAGUE: Another milestone for Mitchell

Andrew Mitchell now has 21 goals in all for Dungannon this season. Pic by Dylan McIlwaine
Andrew Mitchell now has 21 goals in all for Dungannon this season. Pic by Dylan McIlwaine

Just how perfect a fit Andrew Mitchell and Dungannon Swifts have been was emphasised again on Saturday afternoon.

The imposing striker netted his 20th Premiership goal of the season - and gave ex Swifts centre-half Emmett Friars a torrid time besides.

Since joining the club back in 2014, the Glenavon-bound striker has been transformed from a promising but raw forward to one of the league’s hottest properties.

And his 20th league goal of the campaign is another milestone in his rise to Irish League stardom.

“It’s the first time I’ve managed to get to that, which for me is a big achievement,” he said in his calm but commanding tone. “In the Irish League as a striker, you should be aiming for that every season. That’s something that I know I have to keep moving forward and progressing with.”

Boss Rodney McAree took over in October 2015. Since then, Mitchell has netted 33 league goals in 55 Premiership games - a sharp upturn in form.

But the manager is keen to shift any praise on to the striker himself.

“He has done fantastically well this season but it’s nothing more than he deserves because of the work he puts in and how he has worked on his physical presence,” said McAree.

“He’s developing into a big, strong lad. He’s a great guy to be around and we have been very fortunate to have him.

“At any club, scoring 20 goals is a remarkable achievement. I suppose it’s every striker’s initial target for the season and for him to do it at Dungannon is great.

Mitchell is five goals clear of Paul Heatley in the golden boot race. Any prospect of an end of season award for the forward is exciting for his manager.

“That would be nice because it would mean he has scored another few goals between now and the end of the season,” said McAree. “If that happens, everybody’s going to be a winner.

“He has realised that he is playing for people who put faith in him and trust him. He has a smile on his face. When you have that and you’re content, it’s half the battle.”

Whether or not he ends the season as top scorer, Mitchell is even more keen that he can leave the Swifts on a positive note.

“Everyone at the club have played a massive role,” he said. “They have been instrumental in me coming to the fore and scoring a few goals.

“They have worked hard with me and have really helped me come on. I’m very grateful for that and I hope I can repay them with an Irish Cup or a top six finish.”