Newry City Reserves 3 – 2 Glenavon Reserves (31/10/18)
Newry City Reserves welcomed Glenavon Reserves to the Showgrounds on Halloween night in the hope of continuing their recent good league form. Still without the injured Shealan Fegan and suspended Mark McCullough, the home side were happy to welcome back Leigh Crooks from his month long ankle injury and were bolstered by the addition of Tiernan O’Reilly and Tiarnan Murphy who have been performing well in Newry’s Mid Ulster League U19 team in recent weeks.
The game got off to the worst possible start for the hosts when Glenavon midfielder Ross Hunter skipped past a few challenges on the edge of the area in the second minute, before being upended by a Newry defender. Referee Ryan Hanna had no choice but to point to the spot. The resulting penalty was cooling dispatched by captain Lewis Parker.
Newry’s response was nearly immediate though and in the fifth minute the sides were level. TJ Hughes’ through ball was chased down by Soki John, who found himself in a foot race with keeper Marc Davidson. Although the Glenavon stopper was able to clear at the edge of the box, his clearance only found Josh Durnin 40 yards from goal and his brilliant first time left footed effort beat the stranded keeper who couldn’t get back in time.
This seemed to settle the Newry side down and they were able to build up a head of steam over the next 20 minute period which saw a further two goals. Firstly, Lee Hutchison sent a wonderful cross into the box from the right wing on 15 minutes towards the onrushing TJ Hughes who was poleaxed by the onrushing keeper. Durnin’s low drive to the keeper’s left from penalty spot made it 2-1 to the home side.
On 25 minutes, it was 3-1, when a wonderful 5 man move through midfield saw wide man Ryan Duffy expertly volley home from the edge of the area for his first of the season. As half time approached, Newry had further opportunities when TJ Hughes had two chances cleared off the line and Lee Hutchinson blazed over from 6 yards with the goal at his mercy.
Half time: Newry City Reserves 3 – 1 Glenavon Reserves
Newry could have put the game firmly to bed at the start of the second half, with 3 good chances in the first 5 minutes from Soki John, Josh Durnin and TJ Hughes, but keeper Davisdon was equal to them all.
After that, it was Glenavon for the most part who did their best to claw their way back into the game, whilst Newry seemed content to try and see the game out. Chances were few and far between for both sides although the game made for a nervy finish when Harry Evans scored in the 80th minute to reduce the deficit to one.
The dismissal of TJ Hughes for a second yellow in the closing moments didn’t help Newry’s cause. But some resolute defending from Annett, Crooks, McGreevey and Mackey saw the home side see out a hard fought victory and move to 4th in the Premiership Development table.
“That was a good three points tonight as we were far from our best,” said Newry Reserves’ manager Ronan Casey.
“At times, we looked very lethargic and on another night we could have been punished for that.
“Since the last game, we’ve been a bit ‘stop start’ in terms of training with men missing for various reasons. Sometimes these things can’t be helped but it was crystal clear tonight, we can’t afford to take our foot off the gas or stop working hard. They were right in our faces and were extremely busy. At times we really struggled to get to grips with them. That said, we came out on the right side of the result which is the main thing.
“It was also great to see some of the promising U19s involved tonight. Tiarnan Murphy came on for the last 20 minutes and was excellent. He has only turned 16 but really impressed with his direct running and certainly didn’t look out of place. There is some really good underage talent at this club and as long as they keep working hard, opportunities will present themselves,” added Casey.
The Reserves are next in action on Wednesday (November 7) to take on Crusaders Reserves at Seaview, kicking off at 7:45pm.
Newry City Reserves: Lewis Hunter, Leigh Crooks, Zach Annett, Jordan Mackey, Thomas McGreevey, Matthew Taylor ©, Josh Durnin, Lee Hutchinson, Sokemeibi John, TJ Hughes, Ryan Duffy
Subs: Keelan Morgan, Jervis McCaul, Tiarnan Murphy, Tiernan O’Reilly