Newry City booked their place in the 2nd round of the Irish Cup with a routine victory over Mid Ulster opponents Oxford Sunnyside at The Showgrounds on Saturday. Despite fielding a team which contained nine changes from last week’s opening league match Newry manager Darren Mullen never had a moments worry although the home fans had to wait on a second half goal spree to see the tie technically made safe. With a squad full of quality players the Newry manager will have been well aware that going forward he will have the selection problem that every manager longs for. This was emphasised with four of those personnel changes grabbing seven goals between them while Peter Murphy, back between the sticks, also looking very assured throughout.
Playing against a gusting breeze the home side opened with a flurry of goal attempts, Decky Carville, Sean McMullan and Keith Johnston all testing Neil Corey in the Oxford goal while a free kick from Oxford midfielder Paul Smyth which flashed wide being the only the only threat to the Newry goal. Indeed that was more or less as good as it got for the visitors with Murphy’s subsequent involvement limited to fielding long balls into his box.
The stalemate was broken after 15 minutes, McMullan displaying fleet of foot on the edge of the box to make room to lay the ball back to Jimmy Walker who spotting that Corey was a yard or two off his line made use of the wind to curl the ball over the keeper and into the roof of the net to put Newry a goal ahead. Without creating any clear chances Newry dominated the play for virtually the rest of the half with Jordan King and Mark McCabe showing up well on the left wing, alas the final ball into the box often letting the home side down.
That all changed in the second half starting with a picture goal from McCabe immediately after the restart and once more McMullan was the instigator hooking the ball over his head into the box perfect for McCabe to run onto before clinically placing his shot past Corey to double the Newry advantage.
Just after the hour mark two goals in two minutes from McMullan brought a more realistic look to the score line. On 64 minutes Carville won possession in midfield before spraying the ball wide to Paddy Mooney. Spotting that McMullan had found room at the back post Mooney picked the big man out with a pin point cross giving McMullan the simple task of powering a header wide of Corey to put Newry 3-0 ahead.
A minute later and it was four, this time Josh Durnin pulling the strings weaving between players before laying the ball into the feet of Johnston who beat his marker with his first touch only to be taken down as he turned onto the loose ball, referee Mark Domican immediately pointing to the spot for a penalty kick which McMullan duly planted into the back of the net for his 2nd and Newry’s 4th goal of the game.
With the game over as a contest it was now only a matter of how many Newry would score. On 70 minute’s goal number five arrived. Having provided a goal scoring opportunity for McMullan which was blocked on the goal line moments earlier the ball came back to Carville hovering on the edge of the box. This time Carville opted to try for goal himself drilling his shot high into the net before the Oxford keeper had time to react.
This was quickly followed by goal number six in a passage of play that was started and finished by McMullan. Picking the ball up outside the box McMullan rolled the ball to the feet of Walker who with his back to goal flicked the ball wide to Johnston. In turn Johnston curled his cross to the back post to where McMullan had continued his run and now having found space had the task of burying his header past Corey to claim his first hat trick of the season.
Newry’s final goal of the day came on 85 minutes and again Carville was involved, the midfielder taking the ball down the right wing before crossing to McCabe who once more displayed his finishing technique taking a touch before emphatically planting the ball into the back of the net to end the scoring with the home side winning 7-0.
In a one-sided game Ian Curran, Decky Carville and Mark McCabe all showed up well for Newry but with two assists and a hat trick it was Sean McMullan who won the Hughes bet Man of the Match Award.
After the game Newry manager Mullen was clearly content with his team’s performance ’Considering we made nine changes from last weeks starting line-up this was a pleasing result. We must have had about 80% possession in the first half but didn’t threaten enough with it. They set up with everyone behind the ball and it was up to us to break them down but we didn’t move the ball quick enough for that to happen.
The second half was a different story and once they tired it was just a matter of how many goals we could score. Mully has missed most of preseason so is still getting his match fitness but showed if he gets the right supply he can continue where he left off last year.
I thought Mark McCabe took his goals well and the introduction of Josh Durnin gave us the spark that had been missing in the first half. Both lads are only young and are still learning but I’ve no doubt will be important players for us this season. It’s unfortunate that we have no competitive fixture next weekend but gives us extra time to prepare for a very tough game away to Ards in the league cup. They have started the season very well but we go there with no fear and are looking forward to testing ourselves against quality opposition.’
Photographs Courtesy of Brendan Monaghan Photography.
Newry City AFC Team: Peter Murphy, Jordan King, Ian Curran, Conor McCaul, Paddy Mooney, Jimmy Walker, Mark Patton, Declan Carville, Mark McCabe, Keith Johnston, Sean McMullan. Subs: Josh Durnin, Mark Hughes, Graeme Edgar, Marty Havern, Paudie Smith.