Newry City moved safely into the fourth round of the Mid Ulster Marshal Cup in Portadown on Saturday but it certainly was not a straightforward victory as it may have looked on paper against a Ballyoran side who ply their trade two divisions below the Newry boys.
Indeed it was the home side who were first on the attack Newry keeper Jack McShane fast off his line to block at the feet of Michael McConville. Newry immediately hit back, McShane’s kick out causing confusion in the Ballyoran defence allowing Keith Johnston to ghost in behind to meet the bouncing ball with a first time lobbed shot which beat Martin Savage in the Ballyoran goal only to fall the wrong side of the crossbar. Newrys slow start continued, Ian Curran going closest after 25 minutes with a headed effort from a corner which flashed wide of the far post. And it was to be minutes before the half time until either keeper was called into action once more. Again it was Newry threatening the goal, Thomas McCann interrupting a phase of patient passing across the middle of the pitch to burst forward and fire in a dipping shot which forced Savage to fist to the edge of the box where Sean McMullan was first to the loose ball, Savage once more coming to his teams rescue pushing McMullan’s effort wide.
Newry opened the scoring after 55 minutes with a beautifully created goal. A move which started with left back Graeme Edgar the visitors moved play up the wing but with the ball hugging the sideline and plenty of covering defenders there looked to be little threat to the Ballyoran goal. That was until McCann displayed fleet of foot, skipping inside and outside markers before whipping in a left footed cross which Kevin McArdle met with a glancing header to guide the ball past Savage to put Newry a goal up.
To their credit Ballyoran hit straight back, Newry failing to clear a long throw in allowing Ciaran McCann to get a clear sight of goal and he made no mistake drilling his shot past McShane to level the scores.
Newry had a great chance to regain the lead on 70 minutes with a chance which was very similar to a chance in the first half. This time Edgar spotted the run of Johnston behind the defence once more giving the Newry winger the chance to lob Savage, unfortunately the result was similar to that in the first half the ball again beating the cross bar.
Newry however were not to be denied and grabbed the winner on 80 minutes. Mark Patton, who had looked lively having been introduced mid way during the half powered a header from the edge of the box off the cross bar with Neil Mullen the first to react volleying the rebound into the roof of the Ballyoran net for what turned out to be the winning goal.
Content with the win after the game Newry manager Darren Mullen commented “This was a hard fought win and a game we probably needed after our two previous victories. Credit to Ballyoran, they made it difficult for us and we needed to be patient in breaking them down. We had plenty of possession throughout the game and are learning that if we keep moving the ball we will eventually create enough chances. It was also a good physical game which we are more than capable of dealing with and will put us in good stead for some of our away games in the league. Mark Patton made an obvious difference when he came on and shows the quality we have in the squad. We have players of the calibre of McCabe, Grant, Walker, Carville, McCaul, Lowry and of course Peter Murphy all to come back so competition for places will prove a good headache for me over the coming weeks. Whilst the league is our priority we would like to win another cup and we will look forward to the next round away to St Mary’s.”
Newry City AFC Team: Jack McShane, Paddy Mooney, Graeme Edgar, Neil Mullen, Ian Curran, Chris McMahon, Thomas McCann, Kevin McArdle, Sean McMullan, Karl McVerry, Keith Johnston. Subs: Mark Patton, Sean Hand, Ben Wilson, Peter Murphy.