Newry City AFC finished their first season in Mid Ulster football with a hard earned win over Seagoe on Tuesday evening. Determined to end the season with a win, even though the league title has long since been secured, Newry fielded a strong team against one of the leagues basement teams who belied their league position with a battling performance, Newry securing the points in the final 15 minutes.
On a perfect evening for football Newry were totally dominant in the opening period of the game, the ball virtually camped in the Seagoe half. However, it took Newry fully 18 minutes to trouble the home keeper. Having forced a series of corners from both sides of the pitch finally a cross to the back post was picked up by Paul McElroy who laid the ball back to Mark Patton on the edge of the box. With his back to goal Patton swivelled and drilled a low left foot shoot inside the far post to give the league champions a deserved lead from their first shot on target. Newry continued to play their tidy passing brand of football content to build slowly and retain possession with both full backs Gary McVicker and David Anderson getting forward in support of Sean Hand and Mark Lowry. In fact Newry’s best goal chances before half time all came through these players. On 26 minutes McVicker picked out Hand in space on the half way line. Hand ran at the Seagoe defence who backed off enough to invite him to shoot from 30 yards, the Dundalk native unfortunate to see his pile driver cannon off the Seagoe post with the home keeper beaten. On the half hour mark the same two were again involved, McVicker playing the ball wide to Hand who drew a few defenders before back heeling a return pass into the path of McVicker who had continued his run forward before being cynically tripped on the edge of the area as he was about to shoot. Newry maintained this incessant pressure and McVicker was again unlucky on 36 minutes when he nipped in front of the Seagoe defender to get on the end of a Lowry cross at the back post only to see his header rebound of the post.
Newry doubled their advantage straight after half time. Conor McCaul surged forward from his centre half slot embarking on a mazy run leaving Segoe players in his wake before slipping a pass to Graeme Edgar. From the edge of the box Edgar laid the perfect pass to Neil Barr who slammed home his 30th goal of the season. With Lowry’s pace destroying the Seagoe left back it looked as if Newry would stroll to a comfortable win. However that changed on 55 minutes when during a rare Seagoe attack Peter Murphy in the Newry goal was perhaps harshly adjudged by the referee to have fouled a home player as he jumped to punch a crossed ball, the resultant spot kick duly dispatched to give Seagoe a lifeline. This to their credit they took and for a team which in the preceding hour had barely got out of their own half for the next fifteen minutes Seagoe were on top Newry relying on McCaul and McElroy to stem the tide. On 65 minutes what had earlier seemed most unlikely happened when Seagoe drew level scoring with a glancing header from a corner kick.
To win a league takes a full squad of players and Newry manager Darren Mullen used his full quota of substitutes in a bid to change the game back in Newrys favour separately introducing Joe Campbell, Stefan Martin and Andy McLarty. Newry also needed their big players to wrestle the initiative back and in Man of the Match Conor McCaul and Chris McMahon they had the players to do just that as both imposed themselves on proceedings. On 74 minutes this paid off, McMahon winning the ball midway inside the opposition half and holding possession as substitute Campbell made a clever run along the Seagoe defence, McMahon sliding an incisive pass which Campbell controlled with his first touch of the game and fired to the back of the Seagoe net with his second for an inspired substitution. With fresh attacking players and Lowry still full of pace on the wing the Seagoe defence, now under serious pressure, were forced into some cynical, although not dangerous, fouls one of which resulted in a sending off for their centre half. The pressure had to tell and Newry added some gloss to the scoreline when direct running from McLarty and Lowry caused havoc in the home defence resulting in goals first for Lowry and then via the boot of a Seagoe defender who turned the ball into his own net in a last ditch attempt to clear.
After the game Newry manager Darren Mullen was pleased to end the season with a win “After the disappointment of losing the semi-final it was good to finish up with a winning game. It was a game that we started very well and could have been 2 or 3 up early but then struggled to create chances for the rest of the half. The second half was much better in terms of tempo although we did allow Seagoe back into the game. The introduction of Campbell, Martin and McLarty gave the team a lift with all 3 contributing to what in the end was a good win”
Newry City AFC: Murphy, Anderson, McCaul, McElroy, Hand, Edgar, McMahon, Patton, Barr, Lowry. Subs: Martin, Campbell, McLarty, Crilly.