Newry City AFC came out on top in a tense and at times dour local derby at the Newry Showgrounds on Friday night. As in many of their games this season the Newry side spent most of the game camped in the opposition half but had to rely on a moment of class from captain Chris McMahon to secure the points which keeps them at the top of the league.
The defining moment of the game came as early as the 14th minute. Shane Lundy playing wide on the wing found his over lapping left back David Anderson who took the ball to the by line and drove in a low and hard cross which was met by a perfectly timed run by McMahon who smashed a left footed volley past Adam Rowland in the Moneyslane net before he had a chance to react.
The home side nearly doubled the advantage minutes later when Niall Crilly pushed forward from his right back position before sliding the ball to the feet of centre forward Mark Patton. Patton cleverly back heeled the ball into the path of Jimmy Walker, his shot from inside the box flashing wide of the post.
Patton created Newry’s only other goal chance of the half on 36 minutes when he battled and won possession of a loose ball in the Moneyslane area before again finding Walker. Walker passed to Graeme Edgar on the left corner of the box, Edgar taking a step to his right before firing in a low shot which Rowland saved at the foot of his right post.
Moneyslane for their part never really got going in the first half with Conor McCaul and Joel Annett comfortably dealing with the little which came their way and Peter Murphy in the Newry net mostly employed by home back passes, as Moneyslane defended in numbers, the half ending with Newry holding that solitary goal advantage.
McMahon had a glorious chance to bring his goal tally to two for the evening on 49 minutes when he anticipated and intercepted a poorly judged cross field pass along the away defence which gave him a run on goal from just inside the half. McMahon, with defenders at his heels, took the ball to the edge of the away box before tamely shooting wide with the goal at his mercy.
Sporadic chances continued to come Newrys way. Shortly after McMahons chance Edgar retrieved a Crilly cross at the back post before laying the ball back to the feet of the supporting Anderson. His cross was met by the head of Patton who climbed highest on the penalty spot only for his effort to fly wide of the post.
Although Newry always held the upper hand they could not get the breathing space of a second goal and were reminded of the fragility of a one goal lead on 55 minutes when Moneyslane broke wide on their right and zipped a low cross to inside the Newry six yard box which McCaul got to first and facing his own goal worked wonders to hook his clearance up and over his own cross bar to safety.
Newry pressed forward again in search of that elusive second goal. On the hour mark Patton battled to win another corner which was swung over by Walker finding Anderson at the back post who watched as his header dropped the wrong side of the crossbar.
Anderson, like his partner full back Crilly, was as much involved in Newry attacking movements as he was engaged defensively, instigated the best piece of football on the night on the 70th minute when he received the ball inside his own half facing his own goal and in a fleeting movement back heeled the ball into space, leaving his marker in his wake. Anderson then found Walker free inside the Moneyslane half. Walker fed the ball to the feet of Patton who returned the pass to Walker before spinning round the Moneyslane defender in time to meet Walkers cross with his head on the edge of the six yard box for what would have been the perfect goal had his header not have gone the wrong side of the post from Newry’s perspective.
This was a satisfactory display by Newry. Once again Newry were solid at the back returning their ninth clean sheet of the season which means that they only have to score once to win and Newry did that thanks to that stunning strike from Man of the Match Chris McMahon who literally is a dynamo that never stops running, tackling and passing but topped the evening off with the game’s only goal.
Newry City AFC Team: Peter Murphy, Niall Crilly, David Anderson, Joel Annett, Conor McCaul, Graeme Edgar, Christopher McMahon, Ian Curran, Mark Patton, Jimmy Walker, Shane Lundy. Subs: Peter Thompson, Mark Lowry (Curran), Lonnie Larkin, Paul McElroy, Joe Campbell.
Moneyslane FC Team: Adam Rowland, John Whitten, Mark Jardine, Mark Irvine, Andrew Moore, Alistar Quinn, Thomas Lockhart, Chris Kerr, Michael McKee, Dean Heasley, Gareth Bingham. Subs: David Boyd, Steven Adair, Robert Weir, Mark Anderson, Neil Bingham.