Newry City will look back on Saturday’s game in Fivemile Town as points which were thrown away. On a poor sloping pitch Newry chose to play against the gradient in the first half and with 40 minutes gone were very comfortably sitting a goal to the good. However by the time referee Porter blew for half time Newry were getting beat 2-1 and to make matters worse were down to 10 men.
With Captain McMahon buzzing about middle of the field and centre forward Mark Patton winning every ball which was knocked forward Newry dominated the opening period but had to wait until the 27th minute to open the scoring through a goal crafted by Niall Crilly. Receiving the ball in his right back slot Crilly advanced into the opposing half, played a one two with Mark Lowry before swinging in a low cross, out of the reach of the home defence but perfect for Patton who planted his first time shot past Crawford to give Newry a deserved lead. As often happens a team is most vulnerable after scoring and Fivemiletown almost equalized minutes later, first when McDowell shot from outside the box, his effort bravely deflected wide by the head of Paul Donegan and then from the resultant corner, Murphy alert to smother the cross at his near post. Newry weathered this flurry and appeared content to play the half out but committed the cardinal sin on 40 minutes when passing the ball along the back line, the ball nicked away by Carroll who now with only Murphy to beat gave the Newry keeper little chance as he tucked the ball into the corner of net. Rattled by this Newry compounded the error by allowing Fivemiletown’s Johnston a free header at the back post from a 43rd minute corner, the big defender making no mistake bulleting his header into the roof of the Newry net to put his side 2-1 up. And if the travelling support thought things couldn’t get any worse they were soon proved wrong when referee Porter was quick to brandish a harsh second yellow card of the day at Donegan for a simple trip which left the visitors with 10 men and up against it in the second half.
However in his half time team talk Newry manager Darren Mullen would have been able to point out to his team that for the majority of the first half there was only one team in the game and Newry certainly had a renewed vigour to start the second period with Mark Lowry’s speed giving the home defence problems. This avenue bore fruit on 56 minutes when Lowry was cut down inside the box by Anderson, referee Porter baulking at issuing a red card even though the defender was clearly the last covering player. When Sean Hand blasted the penalty home it looked as if Newry were right back in the game. However the comeback was short lived as on 66 minutes Newry were once more caught out defending a corner, this time Gillispie rising unchallenged to head past the defenceless Murphy. And try as Newry might to get back into the game for a second time the loss of Donegan plus injuries to McMahon and Johnston had given them too much to do and Fivemiletown hung on to the victory. Speaking after the game Mullen was clearly despondent with his teams display “It’s a very frustrating result as it was a game we were a goal up and coasting. However individual errors and indiscipline have cost us again. We’ve been missing seven players for our last two defeats and clearly we need to strengthen the squad and that’s something I’m working very hard on. Hopefully we will have a few fresh faces over the next week or so”.
Newrys next game is on Saturday 10th January at home to Broomhill, kick off 2pm.
Newry City AFC: Murphy, Crilly, O’Connor, Donegan, Martin, Hand, Walker, McMahon, Patton, Smyrnaginas, Johnston Subs: Lowry, Barr, Edgar.