Away form has let Newry City down this season with Saturday’s defeat at Broomhill their fourth straight league loss on the road, a stat which wasn’t lost on manager Darren Mullen after Saturdays match “Our away form has been bad to say the least this season and this result highlights a lot of our problems. The movement, decision making and basic quality was terrible in the first half. The second half was better and even when down to ten men we were the more threatening team. That said, we haven’t been good enough and this season has been a steep learning curve for us as a group. We will keep giving everything for the remainder of our games and use the positives and the mistakes as a learning tool and motivation for next year”
As for the game itself Newry had enough chances to win any game but at the other end relied on Peter Murphy who made a number of top drawer stops to keep his side involved right to the final whistle.
Starting off with two wingers making the bullets for centre forward Sean McMullan Newry were always going to make chances although as they have so often found on their travels this season the tight confines of some pitches doesn’t lend itself to their style of football. For the first half hour there was only one team in it with Newry having all the chances, the first coming in the fifth minute when a long David O’Connor pass beat the home defence allowing Mark Lowry to run onto the ball, the winger holding play up before finding McMullan who fired his shot into the side netting. McMullan was unfortunate not to score on the quarter hour mark when Paul Donegan rose highest at the back post to nod another O’Connor cross back across goal, McMullan the first to latch onto the loose ball but unluckly to see Steven McHugh dive low to his near post to save. With Newry in control Murphy’s only contribution during that first half hour was to deal with long high balls. However that changed on the 30 minute mark when a poor ball out of defence put the Newry midfield in trouble, the loose ball intercepted by Broomhill who broke forward, the ball initially falling for Chris McElroy who’s shot from inside the box was saved by Murphy who parried it up in the air to the edge of the small box from where McElroy headed it towards goal this time to be denied by the covering O’Connor who was able to stop the ball from going over the line but couldn’t get enough on his clearance to stop Daniel Rayner who was following up from smashing the ball to the back of the Newry net to put Broomhill a goal up.
Newry had a chance to equalize with minutes to go before the half when Paul Donegan strode out of defence with the ball skipping past a few challenges before spreading the ball wide to Gary Crummy who steadied himself before firing a left foot shot across goal unfortunately missing the far post by inches.
Newry picked up where they left off in the second half with Graeme Edgar linking with Chris McMahon to create an early chance for Mark Lowry who forced a diving save from McHugh in the home goal. Newry made some changes on the hour mark in a bid to bring a new impetus to their attack and the change almost bore instant fruit when Conor McCaul took the ball out of defence before finding the recently introduced Chris Fay wide on the right, Fay whipping a wicked cross across the face of goal just out of reach of fellow substitute Neil Barr arriving at the back post.
Newry suffered yet another self inflicted wound on 65 minutes when a pass out of defence was intercepted again by Broomhill, the ball again falling to McElroy who was fouled as he bore down on goal. While a red card may have been the correct decision, although Newry had numbers in defence, all present were mystified when the referee showed the card to Donegan who clearly was not involved in the tackle. Now reduced to 10 men Newry still had to deal with a free kick on the edge of their box, the visiting support relieved to see Murphy make an excellent save low to his right from Jason Harpers strike.
Newry threw everything into attack playing with only three at the back. They almost grabbed the equalizer with 15 minutes left when Lowry helped a corner across the box where it was met at the back post by Barr with a back heeled effort which was scrambled off the goal line.
Playing with three at the back leaves gaps and the game was almost put out of Newrys reach on 78 minutes when a Broomhill attack ended with Harper finding himself with space for a shot from the edge of the box bringing yet another excellent save from Murphy.
Newry went straight back on the attack, Fay swinging in a high cross which Ian Curran met with a powerful header which skimmed the crossbar. Curran was to have the next Newry attempt. McMahon lobbed a ball into the box to Mark Patton who had pushed up from his midfield role, Patton rolling the ball back to the edge of the area where Curran met it with a first time shot which McHugh grabbed at the second attempt. And Newry realized the game was up in the final minute when McMahon won a header in the middle of the field which landed with Barr on the edge of the box, Barr juggling the ball to make room before firing in a dipping volley which HcHugh dived low to save, pushing the ball up and off his crossbar rebounding to Fay who blasted over.
Newry City AFC: Murphy, Edgar, O’Connor, McCaul, Donegan, Smyrginas, Patton, McMahon, Lowry, McMullan, Crummy Subs: Barr, Fay, Curran, McConnell
Newrys next match is on Saturday 28th February away to Banbridge Rangers. Supporter’s bus will leave Stonebridge at 1:15pm.