“A complete team performance” was how manager Darren Mullen described Newry City’s home win against Dungannon Tigers on Saturday. Pleased that his team had played with a high tempo throughout restricting the visitors to little quality possession Mullen will know that his team must maintain these performances going into the second half of the season as they aim to capitalise on their start to the season which sees Newry sit on top of Mid Ulster Intermediate B by the narrowest of margins.
Newry pressurised from the kick off and took the lead on five minutes when a right wing cross from Niall Crilly found its way to the back post where Paddy Mooney nipped in behind his defender to prod the bouncing ball past the Dungannon keeper Luke O’Donnell and into the net to put the home side 1-0 up. Stirred by falling behind the Tigers began to get a foothold in the game but found Joel Annett and Paul McElroy unbeatable at the heart of the Newry defence. The home side doubled their advantage on 17 minutes when a long ball from goal keeper Peter Murphy was nodded on by centre forward Mark Patton into the path of David Anderson who took the ball into the box before unselfishly squaring to `Newry’s top goal scorer Neil Barr who calmly sided footed to the roof of the net from close range. Jimmy Walker gave Barr the chance to put Newry three up minutes later but Barr’s effort from the edge of the box skimmed wide of the Dungannon post. Patton was giving the Tigers central defenders a torrid time both in the air and on the ground and he again was central to goal number three. Chasing a long ball to the edge of the Tigers box Patton forced the Dungannon defender into making a loose clearance which he latched onto before playing a one two with David Anderson. Patton made himself some room to shot and curled a left foot shot to the far corner which O’Donnell spilled to the feet of the ever alert Barr who forced the ball over the line for his second goal of the day.
The second half started slowly with little in the way of excitement except for a half claim for a penalty from Newry when Barr seemed to be taken down inside the box, the referee waving away claims for a spot kick. However the wait for something was not an anti climax, the Newry fan’s patience rewarded on 65 minute’s with a picture goal from Mooney. With not much to aim for with the ball wide on the right Walker again picked out the reliable target man Patton, who even when not scoring contributes so much to the team play. From the edge of the box Patton cleverly nodded the ball down to Mooney who in a flash hit a sweet half volley which flew into the bottom corner of the Dungannon net giving O’Donnell little chance to save.
With the points now safe it was just a matter of improving goal difference and when Chris McMahons long ball was won by Anderson and he fed Barr it looked like number 5 was coming, Barr turning his marker inside out before firing his shot over the cross bar from inside the box. Dungannon continued to contest and made a few half chances which were very competently dealt with by the Newry defence and goal number five came Newry’s way on 74 minutes. Awarded a free kick thirty yards out McMahons strike hit the wall and appeared to come to nothing. McMahon however charged down the clearance the ball ricocheting to Anderson inside the Tigers box. Anderson laid the ball back to Crilly who played a deft pass into the path of Walker who let his dancing feet do the rest as he mesmerised the Dungannon defence with a few feigns and shuffles before finding the narrowest of gaps at the near post with his shot to put Newry 5-0 up.
Newry are well into double figures for clean sheets so far this season and Murphy ensured that this game would be another when late in the game he produced a splendid save diving low to the base of his post to save a misdirected defensive header to leave the final score 5-0 to Newry. This was a fine overall performance from Newry with Murphy guarded by his defence in which Man of the Match Paul McElroy never put a foot wrong . In midfield captain McMahon worked tirelessly whilst Walker again showed his array of footballing skills and up front Patton won every ball with his compatriots Barr and Mooney each grabbing a brace of goals. Even better for Newry was the group of players on the bench all with first team experience which will certainly be called upon in the coming weeks with fixtures mounting.
Newry’s next game takes place on Saturday 15th March away to Hanover in a league fixture. Newry City Travel Club bus to the game will leave from the Stone Bridge @ 13:15hrs, as usual all are welcome aboard.
Newry City AFC: Murphy, Crilly, Annett, McElroy, McCaul, McMahon, Walker, Anderson, Mooney, Patton, Barr. Subs: Hand, Edgar, Martin, Lundy, Campbell. McLarty.
Cover Photo: Brendan Monaghan, Photos in Report: Noel Moan