Newry City’s last chance for silverware for the season slipped away on Saturday with a tame display at The Showgrounds against Intermediate league favourites Tandragee. In a game which beforehand looked likely to be the tie of the round, but which never rose to meet those expectations, Newry enjoyed lots of possession but lacked that vital cutting edge to beat the visiting keeper. Indeed for all the tidy passing displayed by both sides each goal was threatened only once in the first 45 minutes. Tandragee were first to go close after 12 minutes when a Jamie Uprichard shot from outside the box took a slight deflection from a Newry defender clipping the top of Peter Murphy’s crossbar on its way for a corner. On 34 minutes Newry had a glorious chance to take the lead, Ian Curran splitting the Tandragee defence with a through ball which Chris Fay latched onto inside the box only to place his shot too close to the Tandragee keeper Richard McGivern who deflected the ball for a corner.
The second half which saw much more goal mouth action was only minutes old when Tandragee looked sure to score when Mark Bicker was the first to a ball over the top of the Newry defence, Bicker looking up before lobbing the advancing Murphy, unfortunate to see his effort bounce the wrong side of the Newry post. The home side also came out with attacking intentions Niall Crilly pushing forward to take a pass from Sean McMullan and whip a dangerous ball across the box which the visiting defence were relieved to turn behind at the back post at the expense of a corner.
The visitors took the lead on 55 minutes when they broke down the right wing, Bicker cutting back inside the Newry box before taking everyone by surprise shooting from an acute angle to beat Murphy at his near post to put Tandragee a goal up. Again the home side responded this time with Gary Crummy skipping past his marker before taking the ball to the by line, the winger in the act of pulling the ball back to McMullan only for referee Kerr to rule that the ball had gone over the line for a goal kick. With play now end to end Tandragee had another good chance on 70 minutes, this time Johny Black was the player on the end of a right wing cross pulling his first time shot wide from the penalty spot.
Newry forced a series of corners on 80 minutes with McMullan coming closest to scoring when he met a Jimmy Walker cross at the near post, his glanced effort flashing narrowly wide. And the Point man created the final chance of the day for Newry with minutes left when he nodded on a throw in to his old Warrenpoint colleague Keith Johnston, the ball alas arriving too quickly for the recently introduced Johnston to get enough purchase on his shot to trouble McGivern. The tie was finally taken out of Newrys reach in the final few minutes when, with the home side heavily committed forward, Cecil Corbitt went clear down the right wing before crossing low into the box, Black atoning for his earlier miss giving Murphy little chance with an assured finish.
Speaking to Assistant Manager Ray Byrne after the game he stated “Team performances have improved in recent weeks and today we dominated for the majority of the game but we missed a cutting edge. Our shape and organisation was good and players worked hard but we needed to stretch the game more and get into goal scoring positions quicker. We had three good opportunities to score today which could have changed the result.”
Next Saturday 28th March City travel away to St.Mary’s FC in another Intermediate A League Fixture. NCAFC Travel Club will be running a bus to the game which will be departing from the Stonebridge at 2pm sharp. All are welcome.
Newry City AFC Team: Murphy, Crilly, McCaul, O’Connor, Hand, Curran, Walker, McMahon, Crummy, McMullan, Fay. Subs: Edgar, Mooney, Johnston, Durnin, Johnston, Smaryginas.
Photographs Courtesy of Brendan Monaghan Photography.