Newry City moved into the third round of the Marshall Cup at The Showground’s on Saturday with a comfortable victory over Lurgan side Hill Street FC. Similar to many of Newrys recent games Saturdays affair really only kicked into life in the second half with the home side in the first period seemingly content to keep possession and wait for an opening to happen. Indeed in a dull first half it was Hill Street who came closest to scoring, Gareth Forsythe pulling a low cross back to the edge of the Newry six yard box, Ian Curran winning a tussle with Ian Penny to poke the ball for a corner before the striker could finish.
The second half however brought with it a higher tempo from Newry and that was stepped up again in the final quarter, with the game still scoreless, when Newry introduced the experienced duo of Stephen McCabe and Timmy Grant which immediately brought more attacking options, a point which Newry manager Darren Mullen highlighted after the game “Hill Street had a game plan to frustrate us and although we had the lion’s share of possession we should have played a lot better. Our movement off the ball and our play in the final third wasn’t good enough especially in the first half. Once we introduced Giggsy and Timmy they gave us natural width and we looked a lot more dangerous. This was a game I was always going to try a different shape in and I probably learnt more about what doesn’t suit us than what does. That said we hardly ever looked troubled other than when we got complacent at the end but we know that next week brings another challenge and we will have to be better.”
After that first half when only Jimmy Walker registered a shot on target for Newry it only took two minutes of the second half for them to create a good chance, Walker swinging a cross into the penalty area which was met by Thomas McCann who had ghosted in between the Hill Street centre halves only to be denied by Aaron Kidd diving to his right to tip McCann’s header onto the post. Newry piled on the pressure urged on by a captain’s performance from Chris McMahon and soon went close again, Sean McMullan nodding McMahons long pass into the path of Niall Crilly who’s first time shot flew over the Hill Street cross bar. Crilly next turned provider as Newry racked up the chances, picking up a pass from Josh Durnin and whipping in a cross which McMullan helped on its way to the back post alas just out of the reach of his strike partner Decky Carville. On the hour mark McMullan thought that he would finally score when Carville won a McCann cross, knocking the ball down to McMullan who toe poked the ball towards the corner of the goal once more denied by a fine save from Kidd.
The visitor’s best chance in this period came from a free kick some 25 yards from the Newry goal which Steven Lawson curled around the wall forcing Peter Murphy into a smart diving save.
The questions were however being asked at the other end and with the introduction of McCabe and Grant Newry were now banging on the Hill Street door with one attacking movement seeing the ball flash from side to side across the goal and ending with a curling shot from Graeme Edgar which once more Kerr saved pushing Edgars low effort around his post for a corner. The goal did look like it was coming however and on 75 minutes Carville challenged with Kerr for a high McCabe cross, the ball falling inside the box to McMullan who was in no mood to let another chance go by, drilling the ball past the Hill Street defenders on the goal line to put Newry 1-0 up.
Having opened the scoring McMullan went close to adding another with 10 minutes remaining this time with a much more spectacular effort. McMahon found Crilly in an advanced position on the right wing, Crilly chipped a pass into McMullan which the big man with his back to goal controlled on his chest, juggled it over his head spinning around his marker to volley on the other side unfortunately unable to keep his shot below the cross bar.
The home side soon sealed the tie, Grant speeding free down the right wing and sending in a speculative ball which caught Kerr of his line only for the ball to hit the crossbar, Carville the first to react taking possession and finding McMullan who rolled the ball back to Walker on the edge of the box, Walker curling his shot low into the corner of Kerr’s goal to put Newry 2-0 up.
With time all but up Hill Street pulled a goal back when a mix up in the Newry defence resulted in a clearance going straight to Lawson about 40 yards from goal, Lawson spotting that Murphy’s goal was now unguarded lobbed a perfect shot straight into the back of the net to reduce his sides arrears. There was however little time for any more action as referee Gerry Murray, who had his usual sound performance, blew the final whistle with Newry safely into round 3.
Newry’s next match is a Mid Ulster League fixture on Saturday next, 17th October at home to Banbridge Rangers, kick off 2:15pm.
Man of the Match (Presented by Mascot Jake O’Neill): Chris McMahon
Newry City AFC: Murphy, Crilly, Edgar, Curran, McCaul, McCann, McMahon, Walker, Durnin, McMullan, Carville. Subs: McCabe, Grant, Martin, Mullen, Sloan.
Photographs Courtesy of Brendan Monaghan