Newry City secured a massive three points away to Hanover on Saturday but will certainly have suffered the wrath of manager Darren Mullen after the game having gone from cruise control leading 4-0 with fifteen minutes remaining to calling for the final whistle conceding three goals and hanging on for victory by the narrowest of margins. In the goals scored column Newry once again relied on leading marksman Neil Barr who weighed in with his third hat trick of the season which earned him another Man of the Match accolade.
Barr’s first chance to score came after only two minutes when he latched onto a Mark Patton knock down and from the edge of the box fired in a dipping volley which the Hanover keeper did well to palm over the cross bar. Newry went a goal in front on seven minutes when David Anderson surged down the right wing and whipped a dangerous cross along the six yard box which a Hanover defender in his attempt to clear deflected the ball past his own keeper.
Goal number two came five minutes later and reflected the tempo which Mullen has instilled in Newry this year. Captain Chris McMahon harassed a mistake out of the Hanover midfield, the loose ball falling into the path of Anderson who immediately looked for Patton and Barr. It was Patton who ran onto Anderson’s pass, Barr dropping behind and running around Patton who slid a clever ball into his path allowing his partner to smash a powerful shot on the run into the bottom corner of the Hanover net to double Newry’s advantage.
Newry were now attacking at will on both flanks. Paddy Mooney has had a major impact on his return to Newry City and again showed his worth linking with Gary McVicker before outpacing his marker in a race to the by line and clipping a dangerous cross to the back post which unfortunately was not anticipated by his team mates who had all attacked the near post. The same Newry men were instrumental in the next scoring opportunity. McVicker received a quick throw out from Peter Murphy and found Mooney on the half way line with his back to goal. Mooney spun his defender and slipped a pass through the Hanover defence which Barr ran onto. Now bearing down on goal with the advancing keeper to beat Barr shot early, his effort with the outside of his right foot always curling away from goal.
Towards the end of the half Hanover came a little more into the game but robust defending from Conor McCaul and Paul McElroy ensured that the Newry lead remained intact. Newrys final chance of the half fell the way of Mooney on 40 minutes. Barr controlled a clearance and found McMahon wide on the right. McMahon immediately switched the attack with a cross field pass to Anderson who slid a diagonal ball through the home defence giving Mooney a race for the ball with the advancing Hanover keeper. Although Mooney’s pace got him to the ball first he was unfortunate to see his chip shot beat both the keeper and the crossbar to leave the half time score 2-0 to Newry.
The Newry boys secured the start they wanted to the second half when they went three goals in the lead on the 50th minute. McMahon again started the move spraying a pass from one side of the field to the other finding Niall Crilly. Playing a one two with Jimmy Walker, Crilly made ground before finding Anderson in space wide on the right. Having found that space Anderson took his time before picking out Mooney inside the box, Mooney immediately laying the ball to Barr who had the simplest of tasks planting the ball into the net for number 3. This goal was in complete contrast to that which clinched Barr’s hat trick on the hour mark. Shane Lundy won the ball on the half way line and immediately found McVicker. Rather than going down the line McVicker spotted that Barr had roamed to a central position about thirty yards from goal. Taking the pass from McVicker Barr took a step forward and launched a missile like shot which hit the top corner of the Hanover net before the home keeper had moved.
Having won their previous three games 5-0 it seemed to those watching that a repeat was on the cards. Unfortunately the Newry players were obviously thinking along the same lines as they created and missed a series of gilt edged chances to score with a list of players guilty. And even when Hanover pulled a goal back courtesy of a penalty on 75 minutes it still looked as if Newry would score again to banish any fear of a comeback.
Against the background of wasteful finishing from the Newry players one moment of skill stood out when Mark Patton lost his defender inside the box with a sublime turn and was unlucky not to score with the resultant shot.
The tension was turned up on 80 minutes by a second Hanover goal and when their third goal followed five minutes later Newry were forced into a possession only game in a bid to secure the win to the point that even when the Hanover goalkeeper was stranded in the Newry penalty area, having come forward for a corner kick, the Newry players chose to keep possession rather than go for goal. This proved to be the correct decision when referee Ciaran McAllister blew the final whistle with Newry a goal to the good.
Speaking after the game the Newry manager was content with the win and hoped that his team would benefit from the experience “It’s a lesson for the lads in a game that we could have won easily when we were 4-0 up. I told them after the game that we won’t be handed the league and that the performance in the final half hour simply was not acceptable. However, it’s three points and another game towards our goal of promotion.”
Newry City AFC’s next game is next Saturday, 22nd March away to Moneyslane. As usual NC Travel Club will be running a bus to the game departing from the Stone Bridge, Newry at 13:15 hrs.
Newry City AFC: Murphy, McVicker, McElroy, McCaul, Crilly, Mooney, Walker, McMahon, Anderson, Barr, Patton, Substitutes: Edgar, Lundy, Lowry, Campbell, Martin.