Three goals, a clean sheet and a dominant display; it had taken a while but this victory was definitely well worth the wait for Dungannon Swifts fans, writes Adrian Rutherford.
A 10-match winless run was finally ended as strikes from Neal Gawley, Johnny Topley and Josh Cahoon secured a priceless three points against Donegal Celtic.
It was only Dungannon’s third win of the campaign and their first since September 22.
And it means that at the halfway point of the 2012/13 season, they have opened a healthy gap over Celtic and Lisburn Distillery, arguably their main relegation rivals.
Dungannon sit seven points ahead of second-bottom DC – a sizeable lead against a side who have amassed just 11 points from their 18 games to date.
On the basis of this match, DC are certainly the team in greatest peril.
An angry Pat McAllister was left reflecting on what he believed was the worst performance he had seen since taking charge of the Hoops in October.
By contrast Swifts boss Darren Murphy could reflect on an afternoon of many positives.
“It was a good win and overall I’m extremely happy,” he said.
“I was delighted with the clean sheet. This was the fifth game in a row that we have taken a 1-0 lead and we were able to score a second and third goal without conceding at the back.
“In the last four games we had led 1-0 and been pegged back each time.
“But today we took the lead, kept playing on the front foot and created chance after chance.
“We also had three different scorers which was pleasing. The whole team performed very well.”
McAllister said his side’s performance was unacceptable.
“The only positive thing I can take is that we didn’t concede five or six goals,” he said. “Dungannon dominated from first minute to last whereas we were a shambles.
“Our players have quality but if you don’t have a will to win or that edge then you’re going to struggle. Today proved that.
“Our performance was as bad as I’ve seen. To say it was poor is even giving us credit.”
Dungannon were always in control after Gawley’s 19th minute opener.
The winger netted his first goal since signing in the summer when he arrived on cue to steer Matt Hazley’s clever pass into the bottom corner.
Terry Fitzpatrick spurned a golden chance to extend that lead, failing to make contact with a Gawley delivery which flashed dangerously across goal.
The main talking point ahead of the game was Niall Morgan’s decision to quit Irish League soccer for the Tyrone GAA team in the new year.
However, the goalkeeper had a quiet afternoon with DC struggling to land shots on target.
Andy Dolan directed a first half header straight at him while, in the second period, the ‘keeper scooped an effort from the same player clear of danger
Dungannon wrapped up the points in the 74th minute. Chris Lavery supplied a corner to the back post where Topley scored with a close range header.
The win was sealed near the end when Mark Burns fouled Cahoon as he ran through on goal, resulting in a penalty and a red card for the DC defender.
Cahoon recovered in time to convert the spot-kick, blasting the ball high into the net to take his goal tally into double figures for the season.