Newry City made the long journey to Ballinamallard on Saturday to take on the Irish Leagues side’s reserve team in the Intermediate Cup. Against a team made up of reserves and a sprinkling of first team players the Newry boys were still in the game until the last 20 minutes after which the Mallards took control running out 3-1 winners.
On one of the best grass pitches in the country it was soon evident that home team were intent on stroking the ball about with the visitors seeing little of the ball in the opening phase. However it was not until the 15th minute that the home team made the possession pay when Johnny Courtney picked out Steve Feeney who had ghosted in between the Newry central defence to power his header past Peter Murphy to put the Mallards one goal up. The Newry response was positive as they also discovered the pass and move brand of football which they display every week. And they also got the reward of a goal on the half hour mark although initially it looked as if the chance had been wasted. Ian Curran pitched a long pass towards Sean McMullan on the edge of the box, the big man nodding the ball into the path of his partner Keith Johnston who was unlucky to see his dinked shot tipped wide by Jordan Coulter in the Mallards goal. However the chance was not lost as the resulting corner made its way across the face of the goal to Neil Barr at the back post from where he blasted past Coalter to bring Newry level at half time.
Newry started the second half in the ascendancy with young Josh Durnin looking very much at home in the centre of midfield. Indeed it was Durnin who almost created the first opening of the half receiving the ball from Johnston and then laying the ball back into his path unfortunately just out of his team mates reach with the Ballinamallard goal gaping. At the other end Newry relied on a perfectly timed sliding tackle from Conor McCaul to snuff out a break by Courtney.
Barr almost doubled his and Newrys goal tally on 65 minutes when he received a throw in inside the Mallards box and with his back to goal spun his marker and fired a low shot across Coalter which the keeper did well to grasp at the second attempt.
Play swung immediately to the other end with Newry fortunate not to concede twice inside a minute. First, with the Newry players calling for what looked like an obvious push on the back of Ian Curran, Feeney showed his experience making the most of the momentary hesitation drilling in a low shot which Murphy dived low to his left to push around the post. The Mallards kept the pressure on from the corner which followed, Newry grateful to McMullan who also showed his experience to hover behind his defence to be in position to clear the ball from the line when a Mallards goal looked likely. The reprieve was temporary however as Feeney rose highest to nod home the corner which followed. And although Curran forced Coalter into a save from a snap shot on 78 minutes the rest of the game belonged to the home side who closed the scoring with minutes remaining when James McKenna broke down the right wing and swung in a low cross which was just out of Murphy’s reach but fell into the path of Ollie Russell who finished at the back post to leave the final score 3-1.
Newry are back to league business next Saturday 29th November when they travel to play Seapatrick, KO 2:15pm. Newry City supporter’s bus will leave the Stonebridge at 1:30pm.
Newry City AFC: Murphy, O’Connor, Curran, McCaul, Donegan, McMahon, Walker, Durnin, McMullan, Barr, Johnston Subs: Crilly, Patton, Brilly, Smarygiaas.