Newry City secured another valuable three points in their quest for promotion on Friday evening with a very comfortable victory against Richhill at the Newry Showgrounds. Indeed this was a match which was virtually over as a contest after only four minutes with any thoughts of a surprise result having been ruled out by two early home goals which set the scene for a comfortable victory.
The match got off to the very best possible start for Newry with one of the fastest goals ever scored at the Showgrounds. It was Richhill who kicked off and immediately played the ball to Jeff Richardson at left back. Mark Patton who is at the top of his game at the moment, having been awarded the Newry player of the month for March before the game, hurried Richardson into a poor clearance which was intercepted by Sean Hand. Hand made some ground before playing a pass into the path of Patton who got the reward for his early industry as without breaking stride he deflected the ball into the corner of the Richhill net to put his side into the lead after only 13 seconds.
Early chances kept coming Newrys way with Gary McVicker forcing Gary McCoo into a fine save with a drive from thirty yards and then Patton came close with a headed effort from the resultant corner. The home fans did not have to wait long for goal number two. Chris McMahon rose highest to win a Richhill kick out, his header falling to Shane Lundy. Lundy played the ball to the feet of Patton who returned the compliment as Lundy continued his run into the box before placing his shot into the far corner of McCoo’s net for goal number two.
Richhill gradually edged into the game and Newry had Niall Crilly and Peter Murphy in turn to thank for maintaining the lead, first Crilly with a goal line clearance with 10 minutes gone and then it was Peter Murphy’s turn quickly off his line to block a close range attempt on goal.
The home side weathered this phase in play and stretched their lead on 20 minutes when Jimmy Walker swung a corner in from the left and with a mixture of Newrys Joel Annett and a Richhill defender jumping in front of him McCoo missed with his attempted fisted clearance, the ball missing everyone else and sailed into the back of the Richhill net for a Walker goal to put Newry 3-0 up.
Even though they were 3 goals to the good it was not until the 25th minute that Newry started to play the passing football which has seen them dominate so many games this season. From a move which started on the right with passing between Hand, Patton and Crilly before the point of the attack was switched to the left wing where McMahon and Lundy combined giving McVicker the chance to pick out Patton with a cross to the back post, the Newry striker unfortunate to see his header back across goal miss the far post for what would have been a picture goal. Unfortunate on this occasion Patton really should have had his second and Newry’s fourth goal on forty minutes. Again he was involved in the build this time with Hand combining to release Neil Barr inside the Richhill box. Barr unselfishly squared the ball across the goal line leaving Patton with the simple task of tapping home only for the Newry striker to take his eye off the ball at the crucial moment leaving the ball to roll harmlessly wide.
Patton made amends for this miss straight after half time. Again it was a Walker corner which brought the danger to the Richhill net as Paul McElroy rose highest to meet his cross with a powerful header which was blocked on the goal line with Patton the first to react pouncing onto the rebound and driving the loose ball to the net for his second goal of the night.
Patton’s hat trick goal which came on 55 minutes to put Newry 5-0 up was perhaps the best of his three. McMahon won the ball inside his own half and immediately dissected the Richhill defence with a long through ball which Patton ran onto now with a clear run on goal. Full of confidence Patton took his time forcing McCoo to dive to his left before slipping his shot into the centre of the goal for a hat trick which along with his involvement in just about every Newry attack sealed his Man of the Match award.
Newry captain McMahon delivered an equally incisive ball on 66 minutes which completely took the Richhill defence out of the game and left the recently introduced Mark Lowry with a chance to score, Lowry most unfortunate to see his lobbed effort beat the keeper but to then bounce on the six yard line and over the cross bar.
McMahon was winning all the tackles in midfield and on 68 minutes he made good use of more ball which he himself had won, again beating the Richhill defence with a long pass this time releasing Barr wide on Newrys right wing with clear sight of goal. With time to compose himself Barr took his time before curling a beautiful left foot shot into the far top corner of the Richhill net for goal number six.
Richhill continued to compete and got a little reward for their spirit when Brent Murray latched onto a loose ball inside the Newry penalty area on 75 minutes and hit a dipping half volley which gave Murphy little chance as it went into the Newry net clipping the underside of the cross bar on the way.
Newry were not to be outdone on any front on the evening however and had the last word on the goal scoring chart when Lowry, who had been unlucky with a few previous efforts was on hand to nod a rebound into the net after the Richhill keeper had been unable to hold on to a Barr effort from the edge of the box leaving the final score 7-1.
Newry manager Darren Mullen was delighted with his team’s performance “We could not have wished for a better start scoring, albeit fortunately in the very first minute. From then on we were the dominant team and kept imposing our high tempo pressing game on Richhill. To score seven goals is always pleasing and it leaves us in a great position to gain promotion. We can also win the league by winning another two games but all we are concentrating on is the next match against Bourneview Young Men on Thursday night. Hopefully we get another big crowd down to the Showgrounds and get a win that can set us up for Saturday.”
Newry City AFC: Murphy, McVicker, Crilly, Annett, McElroy, Hand, McMahon, Walker, Lundy, Barr, Patton (Man of the Match) Subs: Lowry, McCaul, Edgar, Mooney, Martin, Campbell.
Newry City’s next game is at home to Bourneview on Thursday 24th April kick off 19.30 at the Newry Showgrounds. Newry are then away to Richhill on Saturday 26th April with a 14:15 kick off. Newry City travel club bus will leave the Stonebridge at 13:15hrs.
Cover photo courtesy of Brendan Monaghan.