Newry City were dumped out of the Irish Cup in a foul ridden game at The Showgrounds on Saturday during which the visitors had eight players booked and another sent off along with their assistant manager, a price which the visitors would no doubt accept for a tactic which set about stifling Newry City’s football style from the kick off.
Without creating any clear cut chance’s the early exchanges belonged to the home side, the Newington goal threatened early only when a diagonal ball from Mark Hughes had to be turned wide at the back post by Matthew Reid as Stephen McCabe closed in. With a quarter of an hour gone Newry managed to slip the home defence, once more Hughes delivered the cross for Decky Carville, who had beaten the Newington off side trap, to try his luck from the penalty spot with a headed effort which flew wide of the post with Newington keeper Dean Smyth rooted to the spot.
In reply Newington also had a half chance, Richard Gowdy turning to make room on the edge of the box only to be denied by a late block from Conor McCaul. In a game littered by both petulant and nasty tackles any fluency which Newry looked like bringing to the game was snuffed out by a succession of fouls for which it somehow took to the late stages of the game before a player was dismissed from the pitch.
The visitors opened the scoring with 20 minutes gone. In a heavily congested box there appeared to be no way to goal for Newington until a clever back heel flat footed the Newry defence giving Sean McCauley the chance to toe poke a shot past Peter Murphy.
Newry’s reply was swift. Jordan King with a long pass to the feet of Carville, the big man playing a one two with Marty Havern before cutting back inside his marker and drilling a low shot past Smyth to level the scores. The rest of the half belonged to Newry with King, Hughes and Mark McCabe all showing up well, the later the most unfortunate after he won the ball wide on the left before switching infield and firing in a speculative shot which had Smyth diving to save.
Newington regained the lead early in the second half. Well placed with a free kick midway inside the Newington half the home side imploded, first by not getting the dead ball into the Newington penalty area and subsequently by getting out numbered in defence, Newington breaking swiftly up the right flank before switching the ball to the back post where Neil Quinn was left with an open goal which he simply could not miss.
Similar to the first half Newry created a super chance straight after conceding, Mark McCabe rising highest to knock the ball down to Carville who was unlucky as the ball bounced high denying him the chance to get power onto his shot which still tested Smyth. The keeper doing well to block the ball to the edge of the box from where Thomas McCann, who had been on the end of several overly robust challenges attempted to guide his shot into the far top corner once more Smyth coming to his teams rescue.
With Newry piling forward in search of an equalizer and Newington seemingly prepared to deny them by whatever means tempers were becoming frayed, matters culminating when the referee ordered Stephen McCabe from the dugout as he reacted to yet another foul in front of the Newry bench.
And as so often happens when a team piles forward in search of an equalizer Newry were caught with a second Newington breakaway goal, Murphy coming much too far off his line in an attempt to act as sweeper exacerbated by blasting his clearance straight at Newington’s Conal Burns who was fortunate to see the loose ball rebound towards the Newry goal leaving him with the simple task of walking the ball into the empty net.
To their credit Newry refused to give up, Smyth forced into a fine save diving full length to get his finger tips to deflect a Hughes free kick onto the cross bar, the ball swirling up in the air to the far post where McCabe’s header was deflected wide for a corner. But in reality the tie was gone for the home team with manager Darren Mullen in philosophical mood after the game “This was a harsh lesson for us and the only positive is that it was in a competition that we were never going to win. I thought the referee lost the game in terms of discipline early on and that set the tone for the rest of the game.
“We were the best team in the first half but in the second became embroiled in seeking retribution for some bad tackles rather than concentrating on our own game. As with every game we need to learn something from it and from today’s we now know that we need to be cuter in dealing with a physical game. It was a really good test which unfortunately we came out the wrong side off but if we can learn from it both individually and as a group then we will be a better team from it.”
Newry City Team: Peter Murphy, Neil Mullen, Jordan King, Ian Curran, Conor McCaul, Chris McMahon, Mark Hughes, Thomas McCann, Declan Carville, Marty Havern, Stephen McCabe. Subs: Sean McMullan, Keith Johnston, Mark Patton, Mark McCabe, Padraig Smith.
Newry City now return to league duties travelling next Saturday, 8th October to play Tobermore. NCAFC Travel Club bus will leave the Stonebridge at 12:30.
Photographs courtesy of Brendan Monaghan Photography.