AFC Craigavon 1 Newry City AFC 9
Newry City maintained their good start to the season with a crushing victory over AFC Craigavon in their first away league game. This was a real statement of intent from a Newry side who showed a ruthlessness that was perhaps lacking at times last season.
Just as in the opening win over Valley Rangers, Newry were quick out of the blocks and on the front foot from the outset. This time it took until the third minute for City to open their account and once again Sean McMullan was the man on target. The home side may have felt they had survived an opening Newry onslaught as first Stephen McCabe hit the post before Declan Carville’s follow up effort was saved by the home keeper, but Newry worked the ball back to McMullan who fired home from close range.
Newry had initially failed to build on their early goal against Valley, but there was to be no such respite for their opponents on this occasion as they quickly doubled the lead. Full back Ben Wilson chipped an inviting ball in behind the home rear-guard and McMullan, with time perhaps to bring it down, chose instead to volley across the keeper and in to the corner of the net.
Newry were rampant and almost had another goal within minutes when McMullan was played in but the home keeper made a fine save to deny the striker a quick hat-trick. Newry piled on the pressure, Neil Mullen heading just over from a corner and yet another ball in to the box was headed on to his own post by a Craigavon defender.
With Thomas McCann and Declan Carville running through the Craigavon lines at will, it was surely only a matter of time before a third arrived, but Newry’s assault was temporarily stalled as their hosts hit back with a fine goal of their own after a nice passing movement.
However, any thoughts Craigavon had of making a contest of it were quickly dissipated as Newry responded with a third goal. Stephen McCabe was having real joy down the left wing and, not for the first time, he skipped past his man and delivered an inch perfect cross to Keith Johnston who slotted home to restore the two goal advantage.
That goal knocked the stuffing out of Craigavon and after squandering a series of further chances, Newry hit a fourth before the break when the impressive McCann cut in to the box and lashed home from an angle.
Doubtless Darren Mullen would have impressed upon his troops the need to make sure that the second moiety was as comfortable as possible and his team duly responded with a blitzkrieg that bore three goals in the opening five minutes of the half.
First up McCann slid the ball through for McMullan who rounded the keeper and rolled the ball home for a deserved hat-trick. The big striker was on fire and minutes later he was hauled down in the box for a penalty which Carville stroked to the corner of the net to make it six. And with Craigavon reeling, Newry had another almost immediately, as Chris McMahon played a delightful one two with McMullan and fired home a well-deserved goal.
With the game long since over as a contest, Newry struggled to maintain their tempo as they were content to keep possession for long periods from that point on. Manager Mullen used his bench, although the home side wouldn’t have been impressed to see that the fresh legs coming on belonged to players of the quality of Timmy Grant, Jimmy Walker and Josh Durnin. With intense competition for places in the side, all three were prominent as Newry continued to create openings at regular intervals, Grant in particular unlucky not to get on the scoresheet.
Walker, however, wasn’t finished and he had the final say with two late goals. His first, and Newry’s eighth, came when he combined well with that man McMullan before rifling in to the roof of the net. And the midfielder completed the rout by finishing off a neat move that saw McMullan cleverly step over Grant’s cross to allow Walker to finish proceedings in style.
Newry City AFC now travel away to Ardstraw in the Irish Cup on Saturday 22nd August. The supporters bus will be departing from the Stonebridge at 10:45am Sharp. All are welcome.
Newry City AFC: Peter Murphy, Ben Wilson, Conor Sloan, Neil Mullen, Ian Curran, Chris McMahon, Thomas McCann (Jimmy Walker), Declan Carville (Timmy Grant), Sean McMullan, Keith Johnston, Stephen McCabe (Josh Durnin). Subs not used: Stephen Wylie, Paulius Smaryginas