With a chance to put the early season poor league form to one side Newry fielded a much changed side for Saturday’s visit of Richhill in a preliminary round tie in the Bob Radcliffe Cup. Having beaten the visitors three times last season Newry would have been confident of winning this cup tie and that was how the game worked out with the home side taking the lead as early as the fifth minute when Ian Curran got on the end of a Chris Fay corner to side foot home. Newry continued on the front foot, Sean McMullan forcing a smart save from Richhill keeper McCartney with a low drive from the edge of the box. For all their possession Newry got a scare with 13 minutes gone when a wind assisted clearance was not dealt with by the home defence allowing David Ross to run onto the loose ball inside the Newry box, his shot however flashed wide of the goal.
Obviously the Newry defence did not learn from this and two minutes later the scenario was repeated. However this time it was Andrew Allen who got onto the ball and he made no mistake giving Chris Davison, who was making his full debut in the Newry goal, no chance as he levelled the scores. With Chris Fay and Graeme Edgar controlling the centre of the park the home side never looked in danger of loosing the game and went a goal up again on the half hour mark. Again McMullan was involved when his persistance in chasing a loose ball paid off allowing him to hold the ball up and lay it back to Kearns. Industrious as ever McMullan got himself into the box to get his head to the Kearns cross helping the ball towards goal from where it was forced home by Lowry who nipped in front of the Richhill keeper.
What will not please the Newry management is that from this position they did not kick on and like earlier games gave away a soft free kick which again was to prove costly. After conceding a free kick wide on the right Newry failed to deal with the crossed ball which made its way across the box to the back post from where Richhill’s Kyle Davidson made no mistake. Not to be denied Newry bounced back to regain the lead before half time, Kearns winning a free kick 25 yards from goal and then composing himself before curling a beautifully flighted ball into the top corner of the Richhill net to leave the half time score 3-2 to Newry.
That was as good as it got for Richhill as the home side dominated the second half. Mark Lowry is a threat to most defences and through his own endeavour he could have doubled the Newry advantage on the 50th minute. Having chased a long ball Lowry bravely blocked the advancing goalkeepers clearance but was unfortunate as the ball looped into the air allowing the Richhill defenders to get back and crowd out his shot on goal. McMullan was enjoying his free role upfront and was giving the Richhill back four a torrid time. On the hour mark he rose highest to nod a long Niall Crilly pass to Lowry. Lowrys return ball released McMullan to shot across goal bringing a fine save from McCartney who pushed it round his post for a corner. Ian Curran could have had his second goal of the day from Fay’s corner but was unfortunate to find the goal keeper with his header with the rest of the net gaping. The goal had to come however and again it was McMullan winning the ball in the air and finding Lowry. This time Lowry did not return the pass instead spinning past his marker and shooting first time to the bottom right hand corner of the Richhill net. The home side rounded off the scoring in the final minute and fittingly McMullan grabbed one for himself. With acres of space to run into Joe Campbell ran with the ball from the halfway line before picking out Fay at the back post. For his efforts Fay would also have deserved a goal but it was not to be as his shot rebounded off the cross bar with McMullan the first to react, the big striker displaying fleet of foot to deftly dink the ball over McCartney for Newrys fifth and final goal.
In a much better performance best for Newry were Curran, Edgar and McMullan with Chris Fay just getting the nod for Man of the Match. Manger Mullen was clearly pleased to get a win “Despite missing eight senior players we were able to win this cup game quite comfortably in the end. However, several defensive mistakes left the first half tighter than it should have been. Once we organised ourselves at half time the second half performance was a lot better and we were able to run out easy winners. We had five players making their first appearance of the season and this game shows the depth of our squad. Hopefully we can use this win to push on in the next few games.”
Newry City AFC: Davison, Crilly, Lundy, Martin, Curran, Kearns, Edgar, Brilly, McMullan, Lowry, Fay, Subs: O’Connor, Quinn, Campbell, Murphy.
Newry City Travel Club will be running a supporters bus to the Newry game away to Strabane in the Irish Cup on Saturday 23rd August. The bus will be departing from the Stonebridge at 10.45am sharp. All are welcome.
Photograph: Brendan Monaghan.