There’s not much going right for Newry City on the pitch at the moment and while they could point to some very questionable refereeing decisions on Saturday against Institute, one in particular from referee Declan Hassan which denied them a very obvious penalty, in truth the Newry boys aren’t doing themselves justice and even this early in the season face a very important game at home to bottom side Larne on Friday night.
Symptomatic of their season so far things were going much to plan for the first twenty minutes on Saturday until possession was lost in the middle of the park giving Aaron Harkin a free run to the edge of the Newry penalty area. From there Harkin tested the Newry keeper and although Maguire was able to parry Harkins shot Newry were unable to regain possession and when the ball came in from the right-wing indecision amongst the Newry players allowed Gareth Brown to latch onto the loose ball and give Maguire no chance from close range. In reply the home side had their first worthwhile attempt on goal after 25 minutes, Mark McCabe setting up Stephen Hughes who shot over from the edge of the box. Newry kept probing for the equalizer, on the half hour mark Thomas McCann and Decky Carville swapped passes before Carville also failed shot over the cross bar. The visitors had similar chances, the best coming on 40 minutes when Michael McCrudden tried his luck from outside the box, Maguire pushing the ball over his crossbar. Newry came closest to scoring with minutes remaining in the first half, McCann combining with Carville to give Marty Havern an opening on the left side of the penalty area, Havern choosing to shoot for the near post but able only to find the side netting which left Institute a goal up at half time.
The second half opened a little brighter for Newry and they had an early opportunity to equalize, Kevin McArdle released Keith Johnston wide on the right, McCabe unable to get enough on to Johnston’s driven cross to trouble the Institute keeper. The visitors almost doubled their advantage after 55 minutes. Awarded a free kick some 25 yards from goal up stepped Harkin to clip a shot over the Newry wall, unfortunate to hit the inside of the post and ricochet across the goal line. On the hour mark Newry thought they had a way back into the game when McCabe was bundled over inside the box, the penalty decision appearing so obvious that referee Hassan‘s signal to play on was misinterpreted by many as him pointing to the penalty spot which compounded the injustice felt by the Newry following. From this point the game became fractious, Newry unable to shake off the penalty decision while Institute were more than happy to draw out every break in play ensuring that football wise the rest of the game was a non-event interrupted only by an odd flashpoint between players exacerbated by some curious refereeing decisions, all of which added up to a disappointing result for Newry.
Having started the season slowly Friday night’s game at home to Larne gives the Newry players an early chance to redeem themselves before a brace of games away from The Showgrounds, something which wasn’t lost on manager Darren Mullen after the game “This was a poor game and a poor performance from us. We looked heavy legged and lethargic for most of the game and as we’ve seen already in this league you pay the price for that.
Sometimes you can carry one or two players who aren’t performing but we weren’t good enough right throughout the team. That said we had an absolute stonewall penalty which everyone agreed with including the Institute management and players somehow not given.
That incident however doesn’t take away from our poor performance and Friday night’s game against Larne now takes on an even greater importance. We certainly won’t hide from what is a tough challenge for us this season and I’m looking forward to see how the players react.”
Newry’s next game is on Friday night at home to Larne, kick off at 7:45 pm
Newry City AFC: Maguire, McArdle, M Hughes, King, Boyle, McCann, S Hughes, Carville, McCabe, Johnston, Havern. Subs: Walker, Mullen, Richmond, Patton, Mallon.