Newry City AFC regained sole possession of the league’s top spot with a comfortable victory over visitors Lurgan Town at the Showgrounds on Saturday. Played almost throughout in bleak rain swept conditions this was a game Newry never looked likely to lose though it did take them until the second half to break the deadlock and eventually pull away.
Playing into strong wind and rain in the first half Newry played the way they know best with neat passing and movement on the ground creating their first good chance after only two minutes when James Walker slipped a through ball to Mark Lowry who’s shot was tipped onto the crossbar by Davison in the Lurgan goal. Newry continued to press and were unlucky when a Gary McVicker cross found Neil Barr, who had judged the flight of the ball better than his marker to find some space inside the box, only for his shot to be blocked on the line.
Walker was also enjoying his role as playmaker, taking and giving passes. On twenty minutes Patton and debutant Paddy Mooney linked well down Newry’s left before finding Walker. Walker in turn slid a first time pass to Chris McMahon arriving at the edge of the box, his shot on the run saved by Davison. Although it was virtually one way traffic Newry were wary of a wind assisted break from the Lurgan side, Joel Annett having to be spritely in a race with Hamilton for a long through ball which the Lurgan player seemed to have won only for Annett to nip in to deflect the ball for a corner. This was as good as it got for Lurgan in attack and the play was soon back in their half with Walker again the instigator spraying the ball wide for Niall Crilly. When Crillys high cross was caught by the wind Davison, who later went on to make some fine saves, misjudged its angle and dropped the ball to the feet of Barr only to be bailed out by Carson who deflected Barr’s shot for a corner keeping the half time score 0-0.
Newry resumed on the attack in the second half, again with neat passing creating opportunities the first of which fell to Walker his curling shot with the outside of his right foot being well saved by Davison. Newry opened the scoring on 53 minutes when a Gary McVicker clearance was latched onto by Mark Lowry. When Lowrys first attempt to pass was intercepted he was quickly onto the loose ball before passing to ace goal scorer Barr on the edge of the box, Barr took one look up before unleashing a shot into the far top corner of the Lurgan net to put Newry 1-0 up. Barr rather fortuitously soon doubled Newry’s advantage when he deflected a Mooney shot from the edge of the box past Davison for number two. Mooney was not to be denied his goal for long however and again his chance was crafted by Walker who found him inside the box with a deft chip. Mooney still had a lot to do as he flicked the ball over the defenders head and allowed it to bounce before crashing a half volley off the underside of the crossbar and into the back of the net.
Newry continued to attack in numbers and at this stage it looked like more goals were sure to come. Goal number four duly came from the unlikely boot of right back Crilly who had an excellent game both in defence and in bolstering the attack. Unlucky with his first effort from inside the box which was parried wide by the goal keeper Crilly stayed with the attack and was in the right place at the right time to nick the ball to the net after Davison had blocked another shot from Patton. Newry’s fifth and final goal of the day was scored by another debutant. McVicker, the other full back was also venturing forward at will and his persistence in the tackle paid dividends on 75 minutes when he forced a ball through to Andy McLarty who’s shot was excellently diverted round the post by the overworked Davison. Debutant McLarty also was not to be denied however as he nipped in at the front post to divert Sean Hand’s corner to the net to make the final score 5-0.
This was an excellent squad performance from Newry. Manager Darren Mullan will be delighted with the options that he now has at his disposal. Composed at the back where Murphy was rarely troubled with Paul McElroy outstanding, the rest of the players worked hard throughout at first to break the dead lock and then to enhance the goal difference with most of Newrys attacks instigated by Man of the Match Jimmy Walker.
Newry now look forward to their next league game, next Saturday 1st February away to Seagoe. The NCAFC travel club will be running a bus to this game. The bus will leave the Stonebridge @ 13:00hrs.
Newry City AFC Team: Murphy, Crilly, McVicker, Annett, McElroy, McMahon, Walker, Lowry, Patton, Barr, Mooney. Subs Hand (Lowry) McLarty (Mooney) Edgar (Annett) Thompson, Campbell.
Photography courtesy of Brendan Monaghan.