After two cup defeats Newry City took the chance of a return to league action securing a comprehensive victory over Seapatrick in Banbridge on Saturday. Having already enjoyed two four goal victories over their opponents this season Newry started Saturday’s game full of confidence and were on the offence from the kick off with the Seapatrick defence forced to concede a corner to deny Mark Patton a scoring chance after only 20 seconds. With McMahon, Kearns and the debutant Smaryginas winning the midfield battle Newry continued to dominate early possession but faced with some stout home defending the visitors struggled to create many clear chances, McMullan heading over a David O’Connor cross while Aaron Brilly was unlucky that his headed effort at the back post from a Smaryginas cross went across the face of the goal without getting the touch necessary to deflect it over the line.
However, with the twin striking partnership of Patton and Sean McMullan working well it always looked to be only a matter of time before the goal came. When it eventually did arrive on the half hour mark it was from an unexpected source. McMullan received a throw in inside the Seapatrick box and with his back to goal flicked the ball into the path of Ian Curran arriving into the box, Curran making a few yards before poking his shot past McGrath in the Seapatrick goal to break the deadlock. Newry almost doubled the advantage soon after the restart, Patton taking the ball down the left wing before squaring his pass along the edge of the box from where McMullan’s first time shot fizzed wide. At the back Donegan was winning everything in the air but the next chance showed that there is much more to his game, as he intercepted a Seapatrick attack before taking the ball out of his own half, side stepping several challenges and then cutting the Seapatrick defence open with a pass which gave Patton a one on one with McGrath, the goalkeeper winning the battle blocking Patton’s shot with his legs. Just before half time the home side were further indebted to McGrath, McMahon and Kearns linking up to find Smaryginas in space outside the box, the debutants shot bringing the best out of McGrath as he flung himself to his left to tip Smaryginas’s shot round his post to keep his side just the solitary goal down at half time.
The second half began much like the first with Newry creating chances but unable to get that vital second goal. First to threaten was Donegan who rose highest at the back post to thunder a header off the cross bar with McGrath beaten. Next Kearns whipped in a free kick from the left wing which flew across the face of the goal without getting the touch necessary to cross the line and finally Smaryginas overlapped McMullan before laying the ball back to the striker who shot wide when well placed. The pressure simply had to tell and again it was McMullan and Curran involved. Clever as ever McMullan showed short for a corner kick. With his back to goal the big man juggled the ball before looping it over his head to the penalty spot where it was met by Curran who flicked it into the Seapatrick net with the deftest of volleys.
With the safety of that second goal Newry moved up a gear scoring three goals in ten minutes. On 75 minutes McMahon, who had led his team by example throughout, won the ball in midfield before finding Smaryginas wide on the right. Smaryginas took the ball to the end line before crossing low to the near post where Keith Johnston met it first time to slam the ball past McGrath for goal number three. Number four soon followed, David O’Connor slipping a pass through the defence for speedster Johnston to run on to, the winger having time to pick out McMullan who from about the penalty spot whipped his shot to the Seapatrick net for goal number four. The final goal of the game was perhaps the best. Curran swung a free kick across the pitch to Niall Crilly in the right back slot. Crilly immediately attacked the space in front of him taking the ball inside the Seapatrick half before finding Smaryginas. Smaryginas knocked the ball forward to Johnston who from the edge of the box laid the ball into the path of Crilly who had continued his run forward and now inside the box calmly slotted his shot into the bottom corner of the net to round of the scoring with goal number five.
In a game in which Newry had standout performances from Donegan and McMahon the star of the show was undoubtedly Paulis Smaryginas who belied his debutant status with a seasoned performance which pleased his manager Darren Mullen “Paulis had a terrific debut and could become an important player for us. We started off at a terrific pace and could have been two goals up very early but after that we struggled to create anything for a time. Ian’s goal settled us and we were a lot better in the second half. It was also pleasing to see the substitutes having an impact today with Keith and Niall scoring. After two cup defeats it was certainly good to get league points”
Newry’s next match is next Saturday 6th December away to Portstewart in the Irish Cup. Travel club bus will leave the Stonebridge at 10:15hrs.
Newry City AFC: Murphy, O’Connor, Curran, Donegan, McCaul, Kearns, Smaryginas, McMahon, Brilly, Patton, McMullan Subs: Johnston, Crilly, Durnin, Edgar, Barr.
Photographs courtesy of Brendan Monaghan Photography.