Newry City secured another three league points in a feisty encounter with Sport and Leisure Swifts at The Showgrounds on Saturday. Having gone behind to an early Sport and Leisure goal, and perhaps fortunate not to concede another, the home side eventually clicked into gear making good use of a numerical advantage after the visitors were reduced to nine men in the second half.
Leisure got off to the best possible start after five minutes when a long clearance was won in the air by Kevin Niblock, the ball falling perfectly for Martin Cunningham who volleyed first time past Newry keeper Peter Murphy. The visitors had a great chance to double that goal advantage minutes later when a goal kick was knocked straight back into the Newry box and with a home player attending to his laces deep inside his own half a loitering Leisure attacker was left with only Murphy to beat but lashed his effort wide of the goal.
It took Newry a full 15 minutes to have a strike on goal, Jimmy Walker playing the ball wide to Mark McCabe who tried his luck across goal with a speculative effort which did not trouble the Leisure keeper Michael Magill. Newry were now settling into the game and created a series of half chances right up to half time, the best of which being a volley from Man of the Match Decky Carville which also beat the post.
The first half was interrupted in the 25th minute with the first flash point of the day, a shocking challenge from Cunningham, which was in stark contrast to his earlier skilful finish, cutting the legs from under Keith Johnston who was very fortunate that his shin pads saved him from injury, Cunningham also perhaps fortunate to only get a yellow card for the incident.
The second half was only minutes old when the game had its second flare up, Pierce Tully crashing into the chest of Newry’s Mark Patton with a high foot challenge which left the Newry man floored. While Patton was fortunate to escape serious injury this time referee David Kelly took the correct action showing Tully a straight red card. With that man advantage Newry continued to search for the equalizer which came on the hour mark, Walker creating room for himself wide on the right before pitching the ball over the heads of the Leisure defence landing perfectly to Carville who had peeled away to the back post now in position to place a shot into the bottom corner of the Leisure net to level the scores.
The visitor’s indiscipline was to further harm them on the hour mark when Carville closed down Stephen Tully as he attempted to play the ball out of defence, the ball breaking forward giving Carville a free run on goal only to be pulled down by Tully. Advised by his assistant Aaron Graham who had a perfect view of the incident, referee Kelly once more brandished his red card reducing the visitors to 9 men.
On 70 minutes Newry went ahead with a goal created by the McCabe brothers. From the left wing Mark used his pace to get behind the Leisure defence before pulling the ball back to the edge of the area where Gregory set up a shot for Walker, his effort partially blocked but only to that man Carville who made no mistake placing his shot wide of Magill.
It was now a game of keep ball for Newry seemingly content to hold onto the lead but that two man advantage was there to be exploited and without pushing men forward the home side added another two goals to their tally.
First on 85 minutes Carville assumed the role of provider skipping past a few challenges before laying a perfect pass into the path of Walker who also picked his spot inside the post for a precise finish. And with time almost up Newry grabbed goal number four, Jordan King pushing forward from left back pulling his cross back for Carville to all but claim his hat trick, his shot slamming off the base of the post, Sean McMullan the first to react to the rebound, his effort helped into the net by Sport and Leisure’s Ryan Burns for what will go down as an own goa to seal a 4-1 win for Newry.
Speaking after the game Newry’s Assistant Manager Ray Byrne was relieved to have secured the points “This was a fantastic result against a tough Sport & Leisure team. We conceded early after a slow start but in the second half we showed a maturity and calmness and were worthy winners. Mark Patton and Declan Carville were again outstanding as was Greg McCabe making his full debut. Momentum and confidence is vital for us and the players are working hard to maintain those high standards”
Next up for Newry is a home tie in the 2nd round of the Intermediate Cup against Ballymena United Reserves on Saturday 19th November, kick off 3pm.
Newry City AFC: Murphy, Gregory McCabe, McCaul, Mooney, King, Patton, Walker, Hughes, Carvile, Johnston, Mark McCabe. Subs; Havern, McMullan, Durnin, Coyle, Fegan.
Sport and Leisure Swifts: Magill, Larkin, McConnell, Burns, McMullan, Stephen Tully, Daly, Pierce Tully, Niblock, Glenholmes, Cunningham. Subs: Gallagher, Moore, Johnson, Ryan.
Photograph courtesy of Brendan Monaghan Photography