Newry City extended their unbeaten run to ten games but had to share the points in Castlederg as the home side, Dergview, twice came from behind to match goals for Newry from Decky Carville and Jimmy Walker. While a draw keeps that unbeaten run going Newry would have hoped for better after getting off to the best possible start. With only a minute on the clock Marty Havern cut the home defence open with a perfect pass into the stride of Carville who picked his spot wide of the Dergview Keeper Buchanan.
Chances came and went at both ends, Steven Maguire pushing a low shot from Gareth Falcolner around his post while for Newry Stephen Hughes and Carville combined on the Newry right set up Havern at the near post, Havern shot across goal going the wrong side of the far post.
The home side drew level on the quarter hour mark. Attacking down the left wing Newry were caught out when Falcolner switched play to the right wing where he found Aaron Arkinson who then picked out Ryan Campbell to volley home.
Newry almost responded in the best possible fashion, Walker clipping a free kick into the box met by a powerful header from Darren King the ball seemingly heading for the top corner only to be clawed back by a flying save from Buchanan.
Newry were handed the chance to go back ahead shortly before half time in somewhat controversial circumstances when referee Harrigan ruled that Dergview defender Richard Lynch had passed the ball back to his goal keeper who handled the ball, the referee awarding a free kick to Newry around the penalty spot. Newrys dead ball expert Walker elected for power smashing the ball past a crowded Dergview defensive line to leave Newry 2-1 ahead at the break.
The second half was only minutes old when Havern got behind the Dergview defence bearing down on goal only to be denied by an excellent last ditch challenge from Lee McNulty. While Maguire had to be at his best to push away an effort from McManus it was Buchanan who was the busier of the keepers in the second half, the Dergview custodian grateful to see a shot from Carville fizz the wrong side of his post and then to block a first time shot from Keith Johnston after he was set up by Stephen Hughes.
However despite Newrys offensive dominance they were unable to grab that vital third goal and were made to pay the price late in the game when a sweeping Dergview attack moved the ball from back to front, the ball eventually finding Browne on the edge of the box, his arrowed shot cannoning off the base of Maguires post and into the net for a share of the spoils. There was still a chance for a 3rd Newry goal only for Decky Carville to dither when when placed in front of goal allowing a Dergview defender to get back to block and with that Newrys winning chance was gone.
Newry City Manager commented “When you score in the first minute of a game it should be the ideal way to push on and get three points. However we squandered chances in both halves and unfortunately paid the price again. That said Dergview certainly didn’t play like a team who are in the bottom half of the table and made it a difficult game. Their goals were two excellent strikes and there’s very little Steven could have done about them. I can’t fault the players for their effort as they worked hard all over the pitch and are annoyed that they didn’t get the win. We are on a terrific run at the minute and to go ten games unbeaten is a credit to them. On another day we would have put those chances away but it wasn’t to be and we now have a cup semi-final at home to look forward to.”
On Tuesday night, NCAFC welcome Banbridge Town to the Showgrounds in the Semi Final of the Mid Ulster Cup KO 7.45pm & then travel to Knockbreda on Saturday (9th December) Supporters bus departing from the Stonebridge at 12.15pm.
NCAFC: Maguire, McArdle, King, Boyle, M Hughes, McCann, Havern, Walker, S Hughes, Carville, McCabe. Subs: Mullen, Johnston, Richmond, Cunningham, McMahon.