Newry City booked their place in the semi-final of The Mid Ulster cup with a single goal victory over Dungannon Swifts at The Showgrounds on Tuesday night. While, once again, it was a goal from their talisman Decky Carville which sealed the tie it was the team performance which again pleased manager Darren Mullen “Although we are only into the semi-final at this stage it’s still a big result for the club in terms beating a Premiership team for the first time since our reformation. We’ve played Premiership teams before and had shown progress but ultimately falling short. Admittedly Dungannon made some changes but we also did the same with five changes from the Knockbreda game.
“The message to those players coming in was to give me a headache for Friday night’s game and they certainly did that. We knew Dungannon would have spells of possession, but we just needed to maintain our shape and then punish them in the right areas. Defensively we were very solid and limited to them to very little in terms of clear cut chances. At the other end only for two brilliant saves from Andy Coleman we could have won by more but I’m more than happy with the 1 0 win. That’s four wins in a row and sets us up for another difficult game this Friday night but one that we are looking forward to.”
On a rain drenched evening it was the visitors who had the first chance, Jack Heaney producing a smart save to deny Nathaniel Ferris in the opening minutes. With Thomas McCann settling into his holding role in front of the back four Newry quickly got into the game, Jackie Cunningham pushing forward to create an early chance for Carville, his shot fizzing over the crossbar. With play swinging from end to end it was the Swifts with the next chance, a long ball into the Newry box momentarily appearing to have taken out the entire Newry defence, the home side saved by the back-pedaling John Boyle who’s glancing header was enough to take the ball away from the waiting Thomas Lockhart.
Newry’s reply came from Thomas McCann, bringing the ball out of his own half to the edge of the Dungannon penalty area before trying his luck with the outside of his foot, the ball always curling the wrong side of the post. On the half hour mark it was the home side again going close, Dungannon failing to properly clear a free kick, Darren King shooting over from an acute angle.
35 minutes on the clock Newry grabbed what turned out to be the winning goal, Keith Johnston working hard to close down Andy Colemans escape route after he was put in trouble by a back pass, Coleman for once misfiring with his clearance finding Carville on the edge of the penalty. In his current form there was only going to be one conclusion, Carville taking a touch to compose himself before shooting into the bottom corner of the Dungannon net despite Colemans valiant attempt to retrieve the situation.
The Swifts immediately put pressure on the Newry goal, the sticky pitch helping to cause confusion in the home box, the ball finally falling to Ferris who once more brought a save from Heaney. There was still enough time for a chance at either end, John Boyle using the greasy surface, sliding to clear a whipped cross from Coyle while for Newry Johnston swung a cross into the Swifts penalty area, Carville with a difficult chance swiveling on the penalty spot but unable to keep his volley from sailing harmlessly over leaving the half time score 1-0 to Newry.
With the rain refusing to stop the second half was played in increasingly sloppy conditions. That however didn’t stop an end to end game with the teams swopping similar chances in the opening minutes, Boyle again getting his head to a dangerous ball into the box while minutes later it was Dermot McCaffrey cutting out a super ball from Johnston to the back post with Marcus McKeown waiting. The visitors began to enjoy a period of possession but were simply unable to make any inroads against a stubborn Newry defence. And with the Swifts heavily committed forward it was the home side who next troubled the keeper, Carville and Johnston setting up the industrious Marty Havern to shoot across goal, Coleman diving to push the ball wide.
10 minutes left it finally looked as though Dungannon were about to get back into the game, a neat passing movement on the right wing opened a path for Tommy Roscoe to bear down on goal. With the Swifts man about to pull the trigger a perfectly timed challenge from Paddy Mooney knicked the ball away for what turned out to be the visitors last chance for an equalizer.
The home side were however were far from finished and with Stephen Hughes introduced from the bench and still full of running Coleman was to be called into action in the final minutes, first to stop a pile driver from Hughes from 30 yards which appeared destined for the top corner were it not for a top drawer save from the Swifts keeper. That pair were to do battle again in the final minutes, Carville holding play on the edge of the box before slipping the ball into the path of Hughes who’s first shot on the run was blocked by Coleman, Hughes first to the rebound only to find Coleman back on his feet to make a second save to leave the final score 1-0 to Newry.
Newry City AFC: Heaney, King, Cunningham, Mullen, Boyle, McCann, McKeown, M Hughes, Carville, Havern, Johnston. Subs: S Hughes, T Hughes, Mooney, Crooks, McArdle.