Newry manager Darren Mullen got the response he wanted from his team after the mid week loss to Valley Rangers with a win over basement side Lower Maze at The Showgrounds on Friday night. Presented with an early chance to shake of that disappointment a Newry team inspired by the mercurial skills of Jimmy Walker simply had too much fire power for the visitors, Newry running out 5-1 winners in a game which will be remembered for two stunning strikes from Walker.
That however did not look likely in the opening ten minutes after which the home side could have found themselves two goals down, sloppy defending presenting first Stuart Stevenson with a clear shooting opportunity, Newry relieved to see his effort hit the base of Peter Murphy’s post. And minutes later in midfield two Newry players went for the same ball, the ball deflected forward to centre forward Sammy Davidson who knocked it over the head of the advancing Murphy but unfortunately for Lower Maze with too much pace, the ball going wide of the Newry goal before Davidson could catch up with it.
That was enough to spark the home side into gear, Sean Hand creating the first chance for the home side after 12 minutes slipping a pass into the box for Thomas McCann to run onto, the midfielder having to stretch to get his shot away and so unable to conjure enough power to beat Thomas Neill in the Lower Maze goal. McCann made no mistake minutes later however, this time down the Newry right where a slick give and go with Jimmy Walker created the opportunity for McCann to shoot across the face of the Lower Maze goal, the ball bulging the inside of the far netting to open the scoring. On 20 minutes it was Walkers turn to run at the Maze defence, again a give and go with McCann before Walker skipped around a few challenges and powered a shot off the underside of the crossbar before being cleared by Lower Maze.
The reprieve was short lived however and again Walker was the ring master whipping in a corner which Decky Carville won at the near post, the keepers reactive save only pushing the ball as far as Neil Mullen who nodded the ball back past the custodian to double the Newry advantage. On the half hour mark Walker made a goal for himself. Getting on the ball midway inside the Lower Maze half Newrys player maker exchanged passes with Sean Hand, skipped around a tackle or two and now just outside the box curled the ball into the far top corner for a picture goal. And minutes later Walker repeated the dose. This time set up by Sean McMullan from much the same position as before, Walker put a little more power into this shot, the ball passing the Maze keeper before he had time to react on its way into the roof of the net.
Newry started the second half slowly and were made to pay on the hour mark when they gave the ball away in midfield, Stuart Stevenson trying his luck from distance, the ball skipping off the wet surface just in front of Murphy who couldn’t stop the ball as it bounced over his dive and into the bottom corner to open the Lower Maze account much to the delight of their travelling support who were enjoying their day despite the scoreline.
Like the first half this provoked a Newry reply. McCann found Carville in lots of space on the right wing, Carville holding the ball until McCann caught up before finding his midfield partner in the box. With a wall of defenders to beat McCann tried to bend the ball with the outside of his right foot unfortunately not getting enough curl to find the far corner of the Lower Maze goal.
On 65 minutes a Graeme Edgar throw in made its way right across the box to Carville who made room to recycle the ball back into the danger area where McMullan twisted to get a shot away but was unable to beat Neill. Newry did get goal number five on 70 minutes, Patton winning the ball inside the box before finding McMullan on the penalty spot. Aware of the run outside him the big man played the ball into space for McCann who made light work of the acute angle drilling a low shot in off the base of the near post to make the score line 5-1.
A flood light failure almost led to referee Gerry Murray calling a halt to the game ten minutes early. With the Newry ground staff able to retrieve the situation to allow the full 90 minutes to be played Newry almost scored another, McCann crossing to the back post where Patton climbed highest to nod the ball back to Carville, his first time half volley stinging the finger tips of Neill as he pushed the ball over his cross bar.
After the game Newry manager was pleased to be able to put the dropped points behind him “After our first league defeat we needed a response and the players did so in a positive manner. We didn’t start the game well and could easily have been a goal or two down after some slack defending but once we settled into our game there was only going to be one winner. Some of our goals have been outstanding this year and Jimmy Walkers two goals certainly fall into that category. We had six players missing from Friday night’s squad but they should all be back over the coming weeks. With four league games left and a cup semi-final we are going to need to show the character within the squad. As the saying goes ‘nothing good comes easy’ but with the quality and experience we have in the squad we are prepared for the challenges ahead.”
Newry City’s next game is a league match on Saturday 23rd away to St Mary’s, KO 2:15pm. Supporter’s bus will leave The Stonebridge at 1:15pm.
Newry City AFC: Murphy, Edgar, Curran, McCaul, Mullen, McMahon, Walker, Carville, McMullan, Hand. Subs: Patton, Wilson, Richmond, McArdle, Grant.