On Saturday afternoon Championship 2 side Armagh City made the journey to the Showgrounds for Newry’s final home friendly before two away fixtures. It has been an exasperating preseason for the Newry team and although they have performed admirably in the three ties played so far, all have been lost with no goals scored. Therefore it was with much relief that not only did this fixture see the first senior goal for Newry City AFC it also heralded the clubs first senior win.
The game started with the home team on the front foot creating three good chances for the opening goal. First up was Peter Thompson who had his shot saved by Daniel Rowney in the Armagh goal after he was played in by full back Niall Crilly. This was soon followed by a fleeting opportunity for debutant Paul McElroy who saw his shot turned away once again by Rowney. From the resultant corner John Smyth’s right footed drive grazed the cross bar.
Armagh soon found their feet and the game swung in their favour. Having dominated the play for the previous 15 minutes the away team took the lead after 35 minutes when Chris Maxwell worked his way into the Newry box and drove the ball past Newry’s debutant goalkeeper Ryan Graham for the game’s opening goal.
Newry responded well and had a chance to equalise just on half time when the two Smyth’s, John and Chris combined to force a corner which Paul Daly narrowly headed over.
Newry made 3 changes at half time, which combined with the half time team talk from manager Darren Mullen, seemed to give a fresh impetus to the team. Now operating with two speedy front men the home team gave Armagh no time to settle on the ball. This approach nearly paid early dividends when Daly and Chris McMahon combined neatly in midfield to release Mark Lowry on the wing and his low cross was smothered by Sean Morgan in the Armagh goal.
Newry continued to make the running and reaped the reward when the ball broke, from a strong challenge in midfield by Conor McCaul, to Crilly who drove forward to the edge of the Armagh box before squaring to the free Lowry. Taking one touch to control Lowry blasted the ball high to the keepers right and into the Armagh net for the first senior goal for Newry City AFC.
Newry now on the crest of a wave soon went two up when Shane Lundy rose majestically to head Jimmy Walkers corner to the Armagh net.
Lundy was involved soon afterwards in the final goal of the day. After beating two opponents on the left wing his cross was met by Walker who’s shot hit the post but the ball fell to the waiting Chris Smyth who finished to the net despite the despairing dive of Morgan to complete a deserved victory for Newry.
Newrys next two fixtures are away from home. On Tuesday they travel to Oriel Park, Dundalk to play a Dundalk XI and on Saturday next they make the journey to Maynooth for another challenge match.
Man of the match: Mark Lowry
Newry City Team: Ryan Graham, Niall Crilly, Lonnie Larkin, Conor McCaul, Paul McElroy, Paul Daly, Jimmy Walker, Chris McMahon, John Smyth, Peter Thompson, Chris Smyth. Subs: Graeme Edgar, Gary McVicker, David O’Connor, Mark Lowry, Shane Lundy, Joel Annett.
Armagh City Team: Daniel Rowney, Dale Montgomery, Ryan McGlenigan, Barry McColgan, Dara Noonan, Michael McKenna, Eamon Kelly, Liam Cullen, Conor McNamee, Matthew Hynds, Chris Maxwell. Subs: Sean Morgan, Michael Toland, Mark Rowney, Johnny Walker.
Photographs by: Brendan Monaghan