In a game which was slow to come to life, a speculative shot from Thomas McCann and a dangerous ball from Kevin McArdle across the face of the Welders goal being the only goal mouth action in the opening quarter, the deadlock was almost broken after 25 minutes, Decky Carville finding Stephen Hughes 25 yards from goal, Hughe’s shot slipping through the hands of the Welders keeper Jason Craughwell who was relieved to turn in time to see the ball just scrape over his cross bar.
A big weapon in the Welders attack is the long throw in from Gareth McKeown and on the half hour mark that tactic almost paid dividends for the home side, Scott McMillan getting his head to a long throw in, Stephen Maguire back pedalling to tip the ball over his crossbar. The rest of the half belonged to Newry as they created a series of half chances. The best came with 35 minutes on the clock after Marty Havern and Keith Johnston worked hard to close down the home defence forcing a mistake from Dan McMurray, Stephen Hughes placing the loose ball into the path of Mark McCabe, Craughwell quickly off his line to block McCabe’s shot for a corner.
The home side were quickly out of the blocks in the second half creating a chance in the opening minutes, Ross Arthurs coming off the right wing to try his luck from the corner of the penalty area, his low shot sailing harmlessly wide of the far post. Minutes later and the Welders were the first to hit the wood work, William Armstrong the first to react to an Arthur’s flicked header, hooking a shot over his shoulder which had Maguire beaten but not the crossbar, Newry eventually clearing the rebound. Play swung straight to the other end, Carville playing the ball behind the Welders defence, McCabe picking up the loose ball with time to pick out the near post run of Havern, his first time shot partially blocked by Craughwell, Ryan Deans completing the clearance as Carville followed up. Newry kept up the pressure and created the best chance of the day when neat passing on the left wing between McCabe and Havern released Carville to swing a perfect ball to the penalty spot which Stephen Hughes met with a first time half volley just too close to Craughwell allowing the keeper to make a fine reaction save with his leg.
Chances kept coming Newry’s way, with an hour on the clock Carville and Havern set up McCann 30 yards from goal, the midfielder taking a touch before bringing yet another save from Craughwell. With the Newry defence well on top the Welders opportunities were limited, Leon Bonnes breaking out of defence taking the ball to the edge of the penalty area but finding Maguire in fine form in the Newry nets. Newry were quickly back on the offence and with 10 minutes remaining a period of sustained pressure almost ended with that elusive goal, Carville picking out the wide run of McArdle, his low cross picking out Johnston who swivelled to shoot, the ball cannoning off the base of the post before rebounding back across goal, McMillan with a saving block as Stephen Hughes attempted to turn the rebound home.
With time running out the final chance for Newry fell for Havern, again McArdle was the creator sliding the ball to the feet of Havern who had his first shot blocked but reacted quickly to twist and shoot for the far post but it wasn’t to be Newry’s day, the ball sailing the wrong side of the post to leave the final score 0-0.
Newry now prepare for Tuesday nights local derby against Windmill Stars in the Mid Ulster Cup, Kick off 7:45.
On Saturday it’s back to league action when Newry entertain Institute at The Showgrounds, Kick Off 3pm
Newry City AFC: Maguire, McArdle, M Hughes, Boyle, McCaul, McCann, S Hughes, Carville, Johnston, McCabe, Havern. Subs: Richmond, McKeown, Mallon, Mackin.