Newry City sit top of Mid Ulster Intermediate B at Christmas thanks to second half goals from their twin strikers Mark Patton and Peter Thompson which secured the points at a wet and windy Laurelvale. Both scorers will accept however that it was the introduction of Mark Lowry shortly after the break which turned the game in Newry’s favour.
All the action in the game came after a first half which was instantly forgettable bar a miss by the Newry goal scorer Thompson who when presented with the ball by his partner Patton and with only the keeper to beat from six yards out tried to place his shot in the bottom corner, the ball alas slipping the wrong side of the post. For the rest of the half Newry failed to make the most of the strong wind in their favour barely registering a shot at the home keeper.
The first chance of the second half came the way of Laurelvale on 48 minutes when a home corner was cleared to the edge of the box from where a snap shot through the crowded Newry penalty area was cleared off the goal line by Gary McVicker.
Against the wind Newry soon settled into the passing football which has seen them win nine from eleven league games played so far. On the hour mark they introduced Mark Lowry on the right and the speedy winger immediately had a chance to score when he was released by a defence splitting ball from Chris McMahon. With a run on goal from 30 yards Lowry shot from the edge of the box, the ball flying low and wide of the far post. Better was soon to come. Niall Crilly found Patton almost on the bye line with a long throw in. Patton laid the ball back to Crilly who crossed first time to the penalty spot where Thompson rose majestically to bullet a header to the back of the net to redeem his earlier miss.
The Newry lead did not last long however as the home side equalized on 72 minutes with a goal that owed much to the weather. With no other avenues open and the ball thirty yards from goal the home midfielder fired in a low shot which Newry goalkeeper Peter Murphy looked to have covered only for the wind aided shot to take a nasty skip of the wet turf just in front of the keeper to fly over his shoulder into the net to even up the score.
Newry piled on the pressure in a bid to regain the lead but when, with the clock running out, Lowry’s cross found Patton in the box the ball stuck on the muddy surface between the strikers’ feet and he scuffed his shot wide it looked as if the goal would not come. However Patton’s perseverance paid off on 89 minutes. Niall Crilly slid a ball through the defence which Lowry latched on to, first skipping round a chasing defender and then round the advancing keeper before crossing along the six yard box where Patton was waiting at the back post to smash home the winning goal.
Injury time was all about the referee who first sent of a Laurelvale player who spoke out of turn and then brandished a red card at Newry’s Conor McCaul for what at worst was a foul but by no means a red card offence.
In a game which was dictated by the elements best for Newry were the engine room players McCaul and McMahon and whilst Patton and Thompson battled throughout for every ball Man of the Match Mark Lowry added that little extra pace and inventiveness which won the points.
Newry City AFC Team: Murphy, Crilly, McElroy, Annett, McVicker, McMahon, Campbell, McCaul, Lundy, Patton, Thompson. Subs: Walker (McVicker), Lowry (Campbell) , Martin, Edgar, Anderson.