This was a game that had everything, ten goals, red cards, penalties, the woodwork hit, dubious refereeing decisions and to cap it off a Newry win which puts them into the second round of the Bob Radcliffe Cup and in the process gain some revenge on Hanover for a couple of cup defeats last season. With the sides having met five times last year, Newry shading those games 3 to 2 and with Hanover having made a good start to this season Newry would have been well aware that this had the makings of a tricky cup tie. And while it turned out that way much of Newry’s discomfort was of their own making.
Having got off to the best possible start after only three minutes when Ian Curran got his head to Chrissy Fay’s free kick to help the ball into the far corner of the Hanover goal Newry immediately allowed Hanover back into the game when indecision and slack marking at the back saw Hanover win two headers inside the home penalty area, the second of which belonged to Stephen Douglas who nodded the ball into the Newry net at the back post. The home side were creating chances with Paul Donegan unfortunate to see his half volley from the edge of the area fly the wrong side of the post after Joel Armstrong in the Hanover goal had flapped at a Fay cross. Armstrong was even more fortunate minutes later when David O’Connor played in Fay on the left wing. Fay who was giving his marker the run around with a Man of the Match display took the ball to the by line and whipped in a low cross which was met on the volley by Aaron Brilly who was unlucky to see his effort slam of the inside of the post and back into the arms of the grateful Armstrong.
Despite this pressure, Newry went a goal down on 27 minutes. Awarded a free kick inside their own half Hanover hit a long ball to Justin Bradley and with the home defence waiting for the referee to call play to a halt as Bradley appeared to have started his run from an off side position Bradley lobbed the ball over the advancing Peter Murphy to put Hanover 2-1 in the lead. The home side had a golden chance to equalize just before half time and again Fay was involved. This time he turned his marker inside out on the edge of the box before sliding a pass to Mark Lowry. Lowry took one touch before turning inside too quickly as it transpired for the Hanover centre half who tripped him, the referee pointing immediately to the penalty spot. Having missed a spot kick last week Newry changed the penalty taker trusting Ian Curran with the task. However, the result was similar, the Newry defender pulling his shot wide of the post leaving his team a goal down at half time.
The home side did however equalize straight after the break, Fay swinging in a corner for which Mark Patton rose highest to bullet a header into the top corner of the Hanover net. Although Newry were now on top they did not look like scoring and in an effort to change the game manager Darren Mullen introduced last season’s top scorer Neil Barr, Keith Johnston and Kenny Kearns from the bench. Niall Crilly was having success attacking down Newry’s right flank and on the hour mark he linked up with Chris McMahon and Lowry in a sweeping movement which ended with a Barr shot from inside the box being deflected wide. A Newry goal was coming with Crilly continuing to get forward. Released by Fay Crilly ran directly at the Hanover defence playing a one two with Barr before testing Armstrong with a shot from inside the box which the Hanover keeper did well to save. The goal however did come minutes later and this time it was from a penalty which was converted. With a loose ball waiting to be won in the middle of the park McMahon as usual committed 100% to the tackle, winning the ball which spun wide to Crilly. Crilly found Fay on the edge of the box and when his shot was blocked by the arm of a Hanover defender the referee again pointed to the penalty spot and perhaps harshly sent off the Hanover defender. Once more Newry changed their penalty taker this time Fay making no mistake shooting low into the corner to put Newry 3-2 up.
Yet again Newry contrived to make things difficult for themselves allowing Bradley to score two soft goals within five minutes of each other to turn the game on its head. And to make matters worse for the second of these goals Newry protested too vociferously against what appeared to be another dubious offside decision by the referee leading to a straight red card for Paul Donegan. With both sides now reduced to 10 men Newry pressed for the equalizer and got their reward with time running out when Barr went on a run down the left wing, cut inside the Hanover box and fired in a low and hard shot which Armstrong could not hold, the alert Lowry forcing the loose ball over the line to leave the final score level at 4-4.
The home side’s fitness played a major part in extra time as they looked much the livelier team with Murphy in the Newry goal untroubled in both periods. With the first period remaining scoreless it was only a matter if Newry could score to prevent the lottery of penalty kicks. And score the home team did, twice in fact, to win the tie. First Crilly took the ball out of defence and from the edge of the penalty area slipped a clever ball to the unmarked Kenny Kearns who took one touch and then drilled the ball into the roof of the Hanover net. Newry sealed victory with goal number six, Kearns intercepting the ball in midfield and passing to Barr who calmly took the ball around the advancing keeper and slotted the ball into the empty night to seal victory. While happy with the win Newry manager knows that his team can improve on this display “We couldn’t have wished for a better start with the early goal but defensive mistakes throughout the team made this a more difficult game than it should have been. Games against Hanover are never dull and this one proved no different. We actually played some good football but basic errors made it a hectic game in terms of chances and goals. If we can cut out the errors, which we will work on in training, then hopefully we can continue on this winning run. Having six different goal scorers shows the threat we have throughout the team including those coming off the bench”
Man of the Match, Sponsored by B.Wilson & Sons: Chris Fay
Newry City AFC: Murphy, Crilly, O’Connor, Donegan, Curran, McMahon, Brilly, Fay, Patton, McMullan, Lowry, Subs: Kearns, Barr, Johnston, Martin, Campbell, Quinn, Davison.
Newry City AFC would like to congratulate one of our loyal supporters Johnny Ferns for completing the Ice Bucket Challenge after being nominated by Newry Manager Darren Mullen. Johnny completed the challenge outside Newry Social Club on Saturday after the match. Well Done Johnny!!
Photographs Courtesy of Brendan Monaghan Photography.