Newry City AFC got back to winning ways in this Bob Radcliffe cup first round match away to Dromore Amateurs on Saturday (30th August). Despite dominating for most of the game it took the Newry boys until the stroke of half time to convert the first of many chances and before this they had cause to be glad of the brilliance of Peter Murphy in the Newry goal to keep the score level. Playing with Chris Smyth as a lone striker Newry struggled to create many early clear chances, the best being a glancing Joel Annett header from a John Smyth corner which flashed wide.
Dromore’s best chance of the game came on the twenty minute mark when their centre forward broke free ten yards outside the Newry penalty box with only Murphy to beat. Fortunately the Newry custodian was fast off his line to narrow the target and make a one handed save low to his left. This was the spark that Newry needed as they pressed forward for the rest of the half. First Gareth Hughes set John Smyth free on the left wing. Smyth cut back into the box only to see his low drive saved by the home keeper. At this stage Conor McCaul, who had come on for the injured Sean Hand, began to have a major influence on the game and can count himself unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty when he was upended in the Dromore box. The referee however did award Newry a free kick some thirty yards from goal soon after, John Smyth’s shot again requiring a smart save from the Dromore custodian. However, there was nothing the keeper could do when a diagonal ball from left back David Anderson picked out Jimmy Walkers run on the right wing. In his attempt to intercept the ball the keeper found himself in no man’s land which gave Walker the chance to expertly lob the ball over the stranded keeper and into the net to make the half time score 1-0 to Newry.
No doubt buoyed by this late goal Newry did not take long into the second period to double their lead. Straight from the restart McCaul went on a mazy run before feeding Walker on the right wing, his cross was met by Chris Smyth who headed over. This chance was immediately replicated when Walkers cross this time was met by a bullet header from Joel Annett which flew past the Dromore keeper and gave the Newry side a two goal advantage.
Murphy made his second splendid save of the match on the hour mark when again he was quickly of his line to give the Dromore attacker little to shoot at as he saved low to his right and was up again quickly to smother the loose ball. This was the only chance Annett and Paul McElroy allowed the home attack in the second half and their dominance allowed full backs Niall Crilly and Anderson to move forward at will. Indeed McElroy almost joined his defensive partner on the score sheet. Anderson’s strong run on the left wing resulted in a corner which John Smyth swung to the penalty spot only for McElroy’s header to be cleared of the line with the keeper beaten.
Newry went 3-0 up on seventy minutes with the best goal of the game. Chris Smyth who had worked tirelessly in attack picked the ball up on the half way line and embarked on a solo run down the right flank before beating a defender and laying the ball back to Gareth Hughes who, from the edge of the box, blasted high to the roof of the Dromore net. The final goal of the game came with five minutes remaining when Walker, who was at first denied when his shot was saved by Dromore’s over worked keeper, latched onto the rebound and made no mistake slotting the ball to the corner of the net.
This first round win was built on the foundation of Man of the Match Joel Annett, Paul McElroy and Peter Murphy in the Newry goal all of whom looked rock solid throughout. Newry, who were without suspended captain Chris McMahon and striking duo of Neill Barr and Mark Lowry were also best served by strong displays from Gareth Hughes, Jimmy Walker, Graeme Edgar and Conor McCaul.
Newry now meet Hanover in the second round of the Bob Radcliffe cup on either 13th (@Home) OR 14th (Away) September. Newrys next game is Saturday 7th September away to Dunmurry Rec in the 1st round of the Irish Cup.
Newry City AFC Team: Peter Murphy, Niall Crilly, David Anderson, Joel Annett, Paul McElroy, Jimmy Walker, Gareth Hughes, Graeme Edgar, Chris Smyth, Sean Hand, John Smyth. Subs: Ian Curran (Paul McElroy), Conor McCaul (Sean Hand), Paul Daly (John Smyth).