Neil Barr bagged another hat trick as Newry City maintained their strong start to the season with a 4-0 defeat of the previously unbeaten Oxford Sunnyside in their third Intermediate B league match in Lurgan on Saturday (17th August).
Newrys first chance to turn early pressure into goals came after only five minutes when Paul Daly and Chris McMahon combined to put the ball into the Oxford box. From the resultant scramble the ball was cleared back to Daly who’s first time cross was met by the head of Shane Lundy only for his effort to be deflected over the bar.
The 12th minute saw the only real threat of the match on the Newry goal when Oxford were awarded a free kick just outside the box. However, Louth keeper Shane McCoy was equal to the challenge as he flung himself high to his right to deflect the ball to the covering Gary McVicker who completed the clearance. Defensivley for the remainder of the game the Newry central defence of McCaul, McElroy and later Annett dealt with any aerial threat whilst Crilly and McVicker controlled the flanks with McCoy ever assured in goal.
The rest of the half belonged to the Newry boys who created many goal chances. On the 20th minute Jimmy Walker controlled a long ball and fed it wide to Mark Lowry. Lowry went on a mazy run evading a couple of challenges but was unable to get the necessary power into his shot to beat Jordan Steen in the home goal. Now dominating the middle of the park with Lundy, Daly, McMahon and Walker all combining Newry got the break through on the 30th minute which their play deserved. McMahon slid a pass to the over lapping Daly who’s goal bound effort was blocked for a Newry corner. Walker got a second chance to deliver when his corner was headed back to him by a defender, this time he found Neil Barr at the back post and when his headed effort hit the underside of the crossbar Barr himself was first to react to side foot the ball to the net for the opening goal.
Newry continued to make chances. With five minutes of the half remaining Niall Crilly strode forward and found the again over lapping Daly who at full pace beat the defender and fired in a cross which alas evaded the lunging Barr and Lowry. And Lowry was unfortunate again a moment later when he was on the end of a delightful Walker chip over the home defence but could only watch as his lobbed shot over the advancing keeper bounced wide of the gaping net. Persistence, however, did pay off on the stroke of half time when Lowry got to a low Walker cross a fraction before the home keeper who’s momentum carried him into Lowry, the referee without hesitation awarding a penalty. And the keeper was doubly unlucky as he made a splendid save from Barr’s blasted first effort only for the referee to order a retake as he adjudged the keeper to have left his line early. Given a second chance Barr was more assured drilling a low shot to the corner to make the half time score 2-0 in favour of Newry.
Spurred on by tremendous travelling support with which Newry has undoubtedly brought a new dimension to Mid Ulster Intermediate football the away team continued to dominate after the break. With the seasoned Gareth Hughes replacing Walker in midfield and the classy Joel Annett slotting into central defence beside Paul McElroy manager Darren Mullen was able to display the depth of his squad. Indeed Hughes was soon dominating in centre field showing all the tenacity and skill that comes with his experience. This bore fruit for Newry on the hour mark when he won a crunching tackle in midfield and gave the ball to McMahon who played a slide rule pass leaving Lowry with a one on one with the keeper. Lowry chosing to shoot early curled his effort around the advancing keeper and inside the far post to make the game safe at 3-0.
The Newry management were obviously content with this score as Lowry’s reward was to be replaced by Lonnie Larkin as Newry changed formation to play with five across midfield. Lundy made the most of this system which gave him an element of freedom on the wing as his strong running gave the Oxford defence no end of problems. Larkin also took well to his midfield role with some robust challenges displaying what he can bring to the squad.
On the 80 minute mark it was Larkins challenge which released the always available McMahon who waltzed into the Oxford half and whizzed a long range effort which skimmed the base of the Oxford post with the keeper beaten. This near miss was soon replicated when Man of the Match McMahon met a clearance from a Newry corner about 40 yards from goal and displaying terrific technique smacked a volley only inches over the bar.
Like the first half the second was wrapped up with another Barr goal, this time a Lundy effort was cleared to the edge of the box to the ever alert Barr who rifled a left foot drive to the roof of the net to make the final score 4-0. This has been a great start to the season by the goal hungry Barr who has notched two hat tricks scoring seven goals in three games.
With a number of players unavailable, a strong bench and a winning first eleven Newry manager Darren Mullen’s problem at the moment is one which all winning teams enjoy, team selection. However, with only three games played no one is looking any further than Tuesday night’s league game at home to St Mary’s @ Newry Showgrounds, kick off 19:30.
Speaking after the match although pleased with his squad’s performance thus far Darren was keen to heap his management team and players praise on the Newry supporters who turned out in big numbers on Tuesday night for the home game and again travelled for this away fixture giving the team terrific vocal support which Darren say’s enthuses him even more given the turmoil the club and supporters have recently endured.
Newry City AFC MOTM: Chris McMahon
Newry City AFC Team: 1.Shane McCoy 2.Niall Crilly 3.Gary McVicker 4.Conor McCaul 5.Paul McElroy 6.Jimmy Walker 7.Paul Daly 8.Chris McMahon 9.Neill Barr 10.Mark Lowry 11.Shane Lundy Subs: 12. Joel Annett (McCaul) 13.Chris Hughes 14.Chris Smith 15.Lonnie Larkin (Lowry) 16.Gareth Hughes (Walker).
Oxford Sunnyside Team: 1.Jordan Steen 12.Mark Murtagh 3.David McGurk 4. Conor Fox 5. Stephen Kerr 6.Niall Totten 7.Paddy O’Connor 8.Paddy McCrory 9.Kevin Leatham 10.Chris Martin 11.Kieran Headley Subs: 13. R Crilly 14.B O’Loan 15.J Johnston.
Pictures: Brendan Monaghan