Newry City moved into the fourth round of the Irish Cup on Saturday with a four goal victory over Hanover at The Showgrounds. That margin of victory does not however tell the full story of a match in which the Portadown side, who are flying high in Mid Ulster Intermediate B, held their higher league opponents scoreless for the first 45 minutes and themselves had a number of chances to open the scoring before Newry took control running out comfortable winners.
Having beaten Hanover already this season 6-4 in the Bob Radcliff cup while Newry would have been confident going into this game they would also have been aware that Hanover were capable of posing a real threat. This was evident in the first 20 minutes of the game with neither side able to take control although Hanover did manage to create two decent chances to score the first of which fell to Justin Bradley who forced Peter Murphy into a smart save after 10 minutes. Conor McCaul came to Newry’s rescue to snuff out the second goal chance when he timed his sliding tackle, inside his own penalty area, perfectly to block another Bradley effort.
It took the home side 25 minutes to prise open up the Hanover defence. Chris McMahon won a long high clearance heading the ball down to Jimmy Walker. Walker immediately fed Mark Lowry wide on the right wing. Lowry ran at the Hanover defence before shooting hard and low to the far post, Joel Armstrong in the Hanover goal doing well to hold with Mark Patton following in for any slip up.
Newry were gradually getting a foothold in the game with Kenny Kearns and McMahon imposing themselves on play in the middle of the park. As ever the home side were content to maintain possession with both corner backs, Niall Crilly and David O’Connor building play from deep with Aaron Brilly in particular showing for the ball. That said Newry’s next shot on goal did not come until the 40th minute when they were awarded a corner after a period of sustained passing in the Hanover half. Although the corner was cleared the ball was picked up outside the box by Walker who connected sweetly with the ball but was unfortunate to pick the Hanover keeper out with his effort, the ball smashing into the keepers mid drift.
While he first half ended in stalemate the second period was a completely different case with Newry almost completely dominant playing some of the best football they have shown this season hitting the Hanover net four times.
Newry’s first chance of the second period came with the half only minutes old. Walker took the ball down the right wing before laying a pass back to Kearns who whipped in a cross which Patton met with a glancing header which went narrowly wide.
Opportunity number two came on 55 minutes when Paul Donegan spotted McMahon making a forward run picking his captain out with a perfectly flighted long pass which McMahon met on the edge of the area and having spotted Armstrong off his line attempted to nod the ball over the keeper unfortunate not to get enough loft on the ball enabling Armstrong to save.
With virtually their only attack of the half Hanover had a great chance to open the scoring on the hour mark and again it was Bradley who brought the danger to the Newry goal. With Newry pressing a long clearance gave Bradley a one on one with his opposite number. Having evaded the tackle the striker only had the Newry keeper to beat but with Murphy quickly off his line to narrow the angle Bradley pulled his shot tamely wide.
Newry eventually got the break that their possession warranted minutes later when Kearns cut the Hanover defence open with a perfect pass which exploited the pace of Mark Lowry first as he collected the ball and then cut back inside his marker before blasting a left foot shot high into the roof of the Hanover net to put Newry 1-0 up.
Newry pressed home the advantage on 65 minutes with a second goal this time Lowry the provider picking the ball up in midfield and running at the Hanover defence before picking out Patton in space inside the box. Remaining composed Patton took his time before drilling a low shot past Armstrong to put Newry 2-0 up.
The game was effectively over as a contest after 75 minutes when a Kearns corner was inexplicably handled by a Hanover defender the penalty dispatched with authority by Donegan for goal number three.
Goal number four on 87 minutes was perhaps the best goal of the match. Inside his own half McMahon sprayed a pass wide to Keith Johnston. Immediately on the move Johnston passed to the feet of Sean McMullan who returned the ball to his former Warrenpoint Town colleague now with a free run on goal. With only the advancing Armstrong to beat Johnston displayed his goal scoring prowess dinking a delightful chip over the keeper for goal number four.
In a game in which Newry looked very solid there were many candidates for the Man of the Match trophy but the stand out contender was the power packed Aaron Brilly who was perpetually in motion both defending and attacking.
Delighted to have reached the fourth round of the biggest cup competition for the second successive season Newry manager Darren Mullen was full of praise for his team “We knew from previous experience against Hanover that this was going to be a tough game and the first half proved to be the case. We dominated possession without creating many chances and needed to be wary of their counter attacks. The players were told to keep the ball moving and once the goal came that they would have to open up. That’s exactly what happened and once the first goal went in there only looked likely to be one winner with all 14 players contributing to a very good performance. The fact that we had four different scorers shows that we have attacking threats throughout the team and hopefully we can take this level into another tough game next Saturday”.
Newry will now travel away to Portstewart FC in the fourth round of the Irish Cup on Saturday 6th December.
Newry City: Murphy Crilly O’Connor Donegan McCaul Kearns McMahon Walker Brilly Patton Lowry Subs: Johnston McMullan Moan Barr Edgar Smyrmaginas.
Newry’s next game will be on Saturday 15th November away to Banbridge Rangers in the Mid Ulster Premier Cup with a 1:45 pm kick off. Newry City travel club bus will leave the Stonebridge at 1pm.