A single goal secured Newry City’s third league win in a row on Saturday at home to Knockbreda. And while a solitary strike from Decky Carville was enough to secure the points it really should have been a much more comfortable victory for the home side who dominated all bar the opening 10 minutes at a soggy Newry Showground’s. Indeed, it was only during those opening minutes that Knockbreda posed any real threat, the visitors coming closest to opening the scoring with a Mark Cooling free from outside the box which Stephen Maguire elected to meet with both fists to punch clear while minutes later Mark Hughes put his body on the line to block a fierce drive from Lewis Irwin to keep the Newry goal intact.
From there Newry took over with Stephen Hughes, Jimmy Walker and Carville pulling the strings. While it took the home side until the half-hour mark to score they really could have been out of sight by then with several chances missed with others blocked on the way to goal. Newry’s first chance came after 13 minutes, Carville releasing Mark McCabe with a quick throw, McCabe in turn flicking the ball into the path of Stephen Hughes who skipped past a defender before curling a shot for the far corner, Knockbreda keeper David Ferguson diving full length to push the ball wide. The first of those goal line clearances came from the resulting corner, Carville rising highest to meet Walkers cross unfortunate to see his effort cannon off a defender. Chances came and went for Newry, on 25 minutes Keith Johnston found Thomas McCann on the edge of the penalty area, quick feet from McCann making room for a shot on goal, Newry denied this time by Mark Cooling on the goal line.
The winning goal after 30 minutes came courtesy of the hard work of Keith Johnston, tracking back to the middle of the park to win the ball before releasing McCabe on the right side of the penalty area. Double marked McCabe immediately lobbed the ball to the penalty spot for the arriving Carville who made the finish look simple, passing the ball past the advancing Ferguson and into the bottom corner of the Knockbreda net to put Newry a goal up. Knockbreda almost had a half chance to equalize straight away, aided by a strong breeze a long ball into the Newry box looked likely to reach Knockbreda centre forward Michael Halliday were it not for a sliding challenge from Darren King knocking the ball for a corner.
If there was anything lacking in the Newry display it was that they didn’t finish off some super passing moves, Johnston unfortunate before the break to have his shot cleared off the goal line while after the break it was Stephen Hughes again denied, Mark McCabe leaving his marker for dead with a clever turn on the edge of the box, McCabe taking the ball to the end line before pulling the ball back for Hughes who’s first shot was saved by Ferguson, his effort from the rebound cleared from the line by a covering defender. On the hour mark it was John Boyles turn to be denied, the central defender ghosting unchallenged into the box to meet a Walker corner, Kris Pike doing his job on the post diverting Boyles header wide.
For their part Knockbreda never really looked like getting past a Newry defence superbly marshalled by Boyle and protected by holding midfielder Thomas McCann who hardly put a foot wrong throughout. However, a single goal is a precarious lead and in most games the chasing team will get at least one chance, Knockbreda’s coming on 85 minutes when substitute Ricky Rutherford found space to shoot, Maguire able to push his effort back out with Neil Mullen on hand to clear up any danger, Newry running out comfortable one goal winners. After the game Newry manager Darren Mullen was clearly content with his sides current form “’This was a game that we should have had finished by half time. We were dominant from early in the game and had numerous good chances to score before we eventually did. At 1-0, especially in this league, there’s always a chance you could pay for not taking those chances but thankfully we got another 3 points. That’s 3 wins in a row and we are now adding results to the performances that our play had deserved. As I said when we weren’t winning games there was no need to panic as we had been playing well without getting our rewards. It was only a matter of time before the results started to change and we need to keep building on this run of good form. Hard work is the minimum requirement for any successful team and the players deserve great credit for the effort they have been putting in. It’s easier to do that with the ball but the shift they put in to win the ball back was especially pleasing. We now have 2 really tough games this week which will test us even further but they are the games that the players, coaching staff and fans look forward to. Hopefully the fans will come out in their numbers both home and away for what I’m sure will be 2 entertaining games.”
Newry City now turn their attention to those 2 games scheduled for this week. On Tuesday night Newry welcome Premiership side Dungannon Swifts to The Showgrounds for a Mid Ulster Cup tie, kick off 19:45.
Then on Friday Newry make the short journey to Shamrock Park for a league match against Portadown, kick off 19:45. Newry City travel club bus will leave The Stonebridge at 18:30.
BBC Barry Flynn interviewed Newry Manager Darren Mullen on Radio Ulster Sportsound after the game.(3:14:00) http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0999swy
We were delighted to have Match Day Mascot Eoin Hartigan at The Showgrounds yesterday, check out the photos below:
Newry City: Maguire, McMahon, M Hughes, King, Boyle, McCann, Walker, Carville, McCabe, S Hughes, Johnston. Subs: Mullen, McKeown, Cunningham, Crooks, TJ Hughes.