Newry joined their opponents of next Friday night, Valley Rangers, at the top of the league with this 5-2 defeat of Dungannon Tigers on Saturday. Away from home against the previously unbeaten table toppers the Newry players were in determined mood from the kick off and had their first good chance to score in only the second minute after Niall Crilly and Mark Patton combined to free Jimmy Walker who fired his shot just wide from the edge of the Tigers box. Walker had a similar chance minutes later when Graeme Edgar found Chris McMahon in space in midfield. McMahon immediately shifted the ball wide to the overlapping Crilly and when his low cross found Walker in his favourite attacking position on the edge of the box his goal bound shot had to be deflected over the bar by a Dungannon defender.
Newry’s next two chances fell the way of their captain Chris McMahon. First he took a short pass from full back David Anderson inside his own half before making ground into Dungannon territory and drilling a low shot just wide. This was followed on the half hour mark with another good chance fashioned from a clever free kick. With the free kick spot half way inside the Dungannon half and wide on the right the home defenders were expecting a left footed cross. John Smyth however played the ball back to Edgar in a more central position and his straight ball into the box was perfectly flighted for McMahon as he arrived unchallenged into the box, alas unable to keep his headed attempt under the bar. Newry took the lead just on half time when Neil Barr controlled a long delivery from Peter Murphy before passing to McMahon wide on the Newry right wing. McMahon beat his defender and crossed low to Walker this time on the edge of the six yard box from where he made no mistake to make the half time score 1-0 to Newry.
Newry were caught cold immediately after the restart when a long innocuous ball into the box took a nasty bounce which deceived the Newry defence leaving goal keeper Murphy with no chance to prevent the equalizer.
However the Newry boys regrouped and showed tremendous spirit to regain the lead almost immediately and again the captain was involved. From a recycled corner Crilly whipped in another cross which McMahon met with a bullet header which the Tigers keeper did well to stop only for his palmed deflection to land at the feet of goal predator Barr who drilled home from ten yards to put Newry 2-1 up. Although the final result was by a convincing three goal margin the defining moment of the game was a brilliant penalty save by Murphy on the hour mark. This was a save which was greeted with similar jubilation to a goal by both the Newry players and supporters who felt much aggrieved at the referee’s decision to award a spot kick for an innocuous tussle in the box. Referees however do not often change their mind and it was left to Murphy to dive full length to save and keep his side in the lead. Much buoyed by these events Newry went 3-1 up on the hour mark when a free kick from the left wing was met by a bullet header from Conor McCaul which hit the back of the net before the home keeper could move. Dungannon battled back and reduced their arrears on seventy five minutes when a long throw in was not dealt with by the Newry defence and again Murphy was given little chance when the loose ball fell into the path of a Tigers player who made the score line 3-2 with fifteen minutes left.
Fortunately Newry manager Darren Mullen has instilled a great team spirit and belief in his young side and they finished the match with two golden goals. With five minutes remaining a Newry free kick from the half way line was played high into the Dungannon box and when the clearing header fell invitingly to Smyth twenty yards from goal he needed no second invitation to smash a righted footed volley over the home keepers head and into the far top corner of the net. The joyous celebration for this goal which involved the complete Newry squad was re-enacted five minutes later for Newry’s fifth and perhaps best goal of the day.
With time virtually up a Dungannon corner was cleared to the half way line leaving Newry’s fast forward Mark Lowry in a one on one contest with the Dungannon centre half. With his back to goal Lowry won the ball on the half way line, spun round the defender and sped past him with a clear run on the keeper beckoning. However the impetuosity of youth took over and Lowry unleashed a terrific drive from around forty yards out which flew over the home keeper and into the opposite top corner of the net which Smyth had recently hit.
This was a complete team performance from Newry in which every player gave everything that the management team had asked from them. Adapting quickly to the 3G surface Newry were always in control of the game. Although Peter Murphy must be worthy of a special mention for his all round display plus that penalty save the Newry spirit was again personified in the Man of the Match display of team captain Chris McMahon.
Newry City AFC: 1. Peter Murphy 2. Niall Crilly 3. David Anderson 4. Joel Annett 5. Conor McCaul 6. Jimmy Walker 7. Graeme Edgar 8. Chris McMahon 9. Neil Barr (Thompson) 10. Mark Patton (Lowry) 11. John Smyth (Larkin) Subs: 12. Lonnie Larkin 13. Sean Hand 14. Mark Lowry 15. Peter Thompson