Newry City clinched a much-needed win under The Showgrounds lights on Friday night against Larne. A game of two halves but that is as close as the cliché gets to telling the true story of a game in which Newry dominated the first half but failed to make the most of the chances they created ending the half leading by a solitary goal.
The second half was a different story, the visitors drawing level straight after the break and dominating possession only to implode with time running out gifting a goal chance to Keith Johnston which the Newry man took with aplomb before Jimmy Walker sealed the points with a late third Newry goal.
In a game played under a constant downpour both sides attempted to play passing football with the home side getting the better of the opening exchanges, Decky Carville and Mark McCabe both with early attempts on goal. It did however take Newry until the 20th minute before they tested the Larne goal keeper, Darren King arriving late at the back post to meet a Jimmy Walker corner with a powerful header, unfortunately straight into the mid drift of Conor Devlin. Newry were well on top and had the chance to grab the lead minutes later, Chris McMahon winning the ball outside the Larne box before spreading play wide to Stephen Hughes. In a flash Hughes whipped the ball to the back post finding Carville who took a touch to control, allowing Larne defender David Abe to get a crucial block.
In reply Larne had their best chance of the half, Conor Downey swinging the ball into the box, Darren Stuart heading back across the Newry goal missing the far post by inches. Newry were presented with the perfect opportunity to open the scoring on the half hour mark when Thomas McCann nipped in front of Larne’s Julian Anou in the race for a loose ball inside the Larne box, referee Wilson immediately pointing to the penalty spot as McCann tumbled. And although Stephen Hughes sent Devlin the wrong way with his spot kick the ball sailed the wrong side of the opposite post for another wasted chance.
The home side refused to let their heads drop and deservedly took the lead after 38 minutes, John Boyle who along with Darren King was impeccable in the centre of the Newry defence picked out Kevin McArdle wide on the right. With space to run into McArdle pushed forward before bending a cross behind the Larne defence for Carville who timed his run perfectly sliding the ball home from close range to leave Newry a goal to the good at the break.
That lead was not to last long as Larne came out with guns blazing and equalized with a super goal, Darren Stuart setting the ball perfectly into the path of left back Jerry Thompson who smacked the sweetest of low drives into the bottom corner of the Newry net to level the scores. Newry attempted to hit back almost immediately. From a corner Boyle recycled the ball at the back post to McCann, his cross narrowly headed wide by King.
It was now the turn of the visitors to knock at the Newry goal. On 65 minutes they looked have found the key when Thompson curled a super free kick into the Newry box which Daniel Reynolds got a boot to but was unable to steer the ball on target. Five minutes later and a similar scene was played out, this time Reynolds got his head to another Thompson cross, once more unable to hit the target. Newry were living dangerously relying heavily on the central defensive trio of Boyle McMahon and especially King to protect their goal. Behind them Stephen Maguire’s handling was sure and he was also called into action, first to smother a dipping drive from Ralph Kottey and then to push a shot up and over his cross bar.
With the game looking likely to end in stalemate Newry were gifted a chance on 83 minutes when the otherwise solid David Abe inexplicably attempted to pass the ball back from the half way line. While his pass was woefully short Keith Johnston was already alert to the opportunity quick to latch onto the loose ball knocking it around the advancing Larne goal keeper with his first touch before slotting the ball into the empty net to give Newry a slender advantage.
Larne were not finished and threw everything forward in search of an equalizer. They almost succeeded with time running out when Downey attempted to pick out Thompson at the back post, Jimmy Walker working hard to get back to help his defence heading the danger away under the crossbar. The Newry midfielder was rewarded for his hard work in stoppage time when, again with Larne heavily committed forward Newry broke out of defence, Stephen Hughes slipped the ball into the path of Walker as he crossed the half way line, Walker drawing the Larne keeper from his line before dinking a sublime chip into the back of the net to put some Newry gloss onto the score line.
Happy with the three points Newry manager Darren Mullen was clearly pleased with his players response “We demanded a reaction from the players after a poor performance last week and certainly got that in the first half. Our shape, movement and intensity of our play was exactly what was needed and we could have gone in more than 1 goal up at the break.
“The second half was a different affair and Larne can feel rightly aggrieved and not getting something out of the game. However we have had absolutely no luck so far this season in terms of decisions, injuries and playing well without getting results so I’ll gladly take these 3 points. Unlike last week there are plenty of positives to take from this game and the players certainly can’t be faulted for their effort or will to win. What we need to do is learn from the mistakes we made in the second half which we will work on in training this week and prepare for our trip to Limavady.”
Newry City now travel to Limavady on Saturday 8th October. Travel club bus will leave The Stonebridge at 12 noon.
Newry City AFC: Maguire, McArdle, M Hughes, Boyle, King, McMahon, Walker, McCann, McCabe, Carville, S Hughes. Subs: Johnston, Havern, Richmond, Irwin, McCullough.
Larne: Devlin, Fornah, Thompson, Abe, Bradley, Wilson, Kottey, Downey, Reynolds, Stuart, Anou. Subs: McLaren, McDonnell, Georgaklis, Henry.
Photos below of Match Day Mascot Cillian Rocks with the NCAFC Team.