Newry City’s run of poor form continued on Saturday with visitors Lisburn Distillery leaving the Showgrounds with maximum points. The game opened slowly for both sides, the stalemate lasting until the 24th minute when Timmy Clarke got behind the Newry defence to swing a perfect cross into the box allowing Darren Bell to get the better of two Newry defenders to place his header back over Newry keeper Peter Murphy to put the whites a goal up.
Minutes later and Clarke once more lost his marker wide on the left, this time drilling a low ball into the box which Murphy did well to deflect away with his legs. This appeared to spark some life into Newry and they almost drew level, Decky Carville breaking through the Lisburn defence before back heeling to Jimmy Walker. With his first attempt blocked Walker spotted that the Lisburn keeper Tony Galbraith had come off his goal line and curled the ball over the keeper unfortunate to see it cannon off the cross bar.
A potential game changer arrived around the half hour mark when referee David Kelly judged that Tyrell McCrory’s challenge on Thomas McCann was worthy of a straight red card. The numerical advantage initially seemed to spur Newry, Kevin McArdle pushing forward from right back to try his luck from the edge of the box, Galbraith diving to turn the ball around the post to maintain his teams lead at half time.
The second half opened with an expectancy amongst the home support that Newry’s passing game would create chances presented with a full 45 minutes against ten men. However, a well drilled Lisburn side ensured that would not be the case with goal scoring opportunities for the home side limited to a few half chances. On 50 minutes a period of patient passing saw McArdle find room on the right wing, his cross headed wide by McCann.
Faced with a stubborn defence the home side resorted to trying their luck with long balls into the Lisburn box in the hope that a knock down from Carville or Mark Patton would create an equalizer. They were however limited to half chances, a snap shot from Sean McMullan from the edge of the box and a header at the back post by Carville from a Keith Johnston cross the best they could muster. And with time running out Newry were made to pay for their lack of creativity when a loose pass out of defence was picked up by Timmy Clarke who made some ground before blasting an unstoppable shot past Murphy to double the Lisburn advantage.
The final chance of the game also went the way of the visitors and with the points already secured the travelling Lisburn supporters would not have been overly annoyed when Paul Young’s clever chip shot came back off the crossbar to leave the final score 2-0 to Lisburn Distillery.
Obviously disappointed with a second defeat in as many weeks Newry manager Darren Mullen will look for a big response from his team on Tuesday night “There’s no doubt we aren’t playing well at the minute but the only way we are going to turn it around is by working hard together. We started the game well but were poor for the remainder and didn’t deserve anything out of it. Although there are no easy games in this league we aren’t giving ourselves a chance with how we are playing. We aren’t creating enough and need to defend a lot better but the good thing is we have a chance to rectify that in what is a massive game for us on Tuesday night. We can’t afford to feel sorry for ourselves and it’s now a test not only of our ability but also our character.
On Tuesday 13th December at The Showgrounds Newry City will play Coagh Utd in the semi-final of the Bob Radcliffe Cup, kick off 8pm. On Saturday 17th December Newry travel to play local rivals Banbridge Town, kick off 2pm. Newry City travel club bus will leave the Stonebridge at 1pm, all welcome.
Newry City AFC: Murphy, McArdle, King, McCaul, Mullen, Patton, Walker, McCann, Carville, Havern, Hughes. Subs: McMullan, Johnston, Edgar, McMahon, Curran.