Newry City gained recompense for an Irish Cup exit to Newington with a clinical performance to seal all three points at The Showgrounds on Saturday. Newry manager Darren Mullen has repeatedly said that his player’s must learn every week if they are to progress in senior football and this fixture coming so soon after that 1st of October defeat against Newington gave his player the perfect opportunity to show that they can meet his demands.
Clearly Mullen was pleased with Saturday’s reaction “This was a big win for us not only in terms of staying close to the top end of the table but also psychologically after our last game against Newington. After they beat us in the Irish cup we needed to learn our lesson in dealing with the physical side of the game and we certainly did that yesterday. We tweaked our shape and tactics which I thought worked perfectly and shows we can adapt to different systems of play. Our work rate was superb and left them frustrated at times with my only gripe being that we should have been a bit more composed in the final third. That said it’s another three points and we will now work hard on the training pitch for the next two weeks in preparation for our next league game.”
While both sides swapped half chances in the opening stages, Kevin McArdle coming close for Newry while Conal Burns forced a smart save from Newry’s Peter Murphy, it was the home side who grabbed the important first goal after 15 minutes, Newington clearing a Mark Hughes corner to the edge of area from where Conor McCaul headed the ball back into the box, Neil Mullen with a deft flick helping it over his shoulder to ace marksman Decky Carville who controlled the ball on his chest with his first touch before swivelling to volley to the net with his second.
On the half hour mark with Newry down to ten men, to allow Carville receive treatment for a nasty cut after an accidental clash of heads, Newington had their best chance of the half, Richard Gowdy overlapping on the right wing swinging a cross into the Newry box for which Stephen Sullivan rose highest to power a header on goal bringing a smart reflex save from Peter Murphy who twisted in the air to tip the ball over his crossbar.
The home side had one more chance to add to the lead before the interval, Conor McCaul finding Carville midway inside the Newington half, Carville running at the defence before slipping the ball wide to Mark Hughes who pitched his shot for the far post alas not getting enough curl on his effort to bring it back inside the post.
The first chance of the second half came the visitor’s way, Conal Burn’s poaching at the near post but crowded out by Kevin McArdle who had tracked back to help his defence. And it was McArdle who created Newry’s next opening taking the ball from inside his own half to outside the Newington penalty area where he slid the ball wide to Carville who was most unlucky to see his shot crash off the underside of the crossbar.
Newry doubled their lead on 70 minutes and once more it was a corner kick which gave Newington the trouble, Mark Hughes delivering a pin point cross which Mark Patton, who was the home sides stand out player of the day, met on the run power his header in off the underside of the Newington crossbar. The visitors were not out of the game and had a chance of their own from a corner minutes later, Padraig Scollay drilling in a low cross which Patrick Pierce met with a first-time effort which flew over the top.
The home side wrapped the points up on 78 minutes in the simplest of fashion, Murphy collecting a Newington cross and with the visitors heavily committed forward the Newry custodian immediately delivered the ball forward with a perfect flightpath taking the Newington defence out of the game leaving Keith Johnston in a race for the loose ball with the visitors keeper Dean Smyth, a race the Newry speedster was always going to win, Johnston confident in his finishing ability choosing to shoot first time curling the ball around the advancing Smyth to put Newry 3-0 ahead.
Newington refused to give up and pulled a goal back on 86 minutes, the visitors taking a touch to a shift a free kick from the corner of the box to a central position from where Conal Burns drilled a low shot past a stranded Peter Murphy to reduce the arrears. And while Newington threw everything at the home side in the final minutes their efforts came to nothing as the Newry defence held firm to see out the win.
Man of the Match Sponsored by Hughes BET: Mark Patton
Newry City AFC: Murphy, Mooney, Mullen, McCaul, Patton, Hughes, McArdle, Carville, Johnston, M McCabe. Subs: McMahon, Havern, Walker, McMullan, Curran.
Newington: Smyth, Gowdy, McAuley, Pierce, White, O’Neill, Quinn, McAuley, Burns, Sullivan, Doherty. Subs: Rafferty, Brannigan, Scollay.
Photographs courtesy of Brendan Monaghan Photography.