Newry City secured another valuable three points in their quest for Mid Ulster League honours on Saturday when a debut goal from Karl McVerry and another from goal machine Sean McMullan were enough to see off the challenge of Fivemiletown. Having defeated the Tyrone side in the Premier Cup Final after Christmas Newry manager Darren Mullen was well aware that a trip to play the same opponents in the very next match could have been difficult but from the first minute his side banished any hangover fears he may have had “We started off on the front foot and were comfortable throughout the game. It’s good to start 15/16 with a win and considering the recent cup final it’s a good win as this game had the potential to be a banana skin. Defensively we were very solid with the whole team working extremely hard on a heavy pitch. With Timmy Grant failing a late fitness test it was an opportunity for Karl McVerry to show what he could do and he certainly didn’t disappoint. Not only did he score his first goal but his work rate without the ball was excellent and his performance shows the importance of a strong squad. We had chances to add to the two goals but I’m delighted to come away with three points and we can now look forward to the Hanover game on Friday night”.
Playing his first game for Newry Karl McVerry very nearly scored with his first touch, Chris McMahon from left back cutting out the Fivemiletown defence with a long diagonal pass into the path of McVerry who hit a first time shot across the goal inches wide of the far post. This was followed by a flurry of Newry attacking play but the next goal chance was to fall the way of the home side, Ivor Johnston heading wide at the back post when well placed from a Chris McDowell corner. Decky Carville was to have a frustrating day in front of goal with a host of efforts cleared off the Fivemiletown goal line. The first of these came after ten minutes when he rose highest at the back post to meet a McVerry cross which Carville headed down towards goal beating the keeper but not a defender well placed on the goal line. Stephen McCabe was buzzing on the Newry left wing and it was fitting that he would assist in the opening goal which came after 18 minutes. Sean McMullan won possession inside the Fivemiletown half but with no immediate help available the big man had to use all his strength to hold the ball up until McCabe became available on the wing. From the half way line McCabe outpaced his marker before playing a delightful curling pass behind the Fivemiletown defence which found McVerry in space at the far side of the box, McVerry hitting a first time shot across Jason Muldrew into the bottom corner of the home net to put Newry a deserved goal up. With McCabe continuing to show up well Newry were very much on top. On the half hour mark McCabe pitched a perfect ball onto the chest of McMullan, the centre forward using his first touch to roll around his marker before drilling in a low shot which Muldrew pushed wide. From the resulting corner first Carville was denied when his header was cleared of the line and when McMullan got his head to the clearance Newry appealed that the ball had crossed the line, referee David Murray ruling that Mulgrew in the home goal had got his hands to McMullan’s effort in time.
The reprieve was temporary as the visitors claimed their second goal minutes later and once more McCabe was the architect. Picking the ball up on the half way line McCabe used all his trickery and pace to skip past multiple home defenders before playing a perfectly paced ball through defenders which McMullan ran onto, his first touch taking the ball around the advancing Mulgrew, his second firmly planting the ball into the Fivemiletown net to give Newry the breathing space of a second goal.
The second half was largely one way traffic with Newry piling on the pressure to add to their lead. The half had only started when they had their first chance, Chris McMahon winning a Fivemiletown kick out and choosing to go it alone made his way into the opposing half before firing in a shot from some 30 yards which flew the wrong side post with Mulgrew beaten. From centre midfield Thomas McCann was pulling all the strings and on 50 minutes he skipped away from his marker to free Jimmy Walker on Newrys right. In turn he picked out McMullan on the penalty spot, McMullan spinning to shoot for the top corner of the Fivemiletown net, Mulgrew quickly across his line to save. Moving up from defence Conor McCaul was next to try his luck winning a clearance on the halfway line before moving up field and flashing a shot from distance wide of the home post.
On the hour mark it looked as if Newry were finally to be rewarded for their endeavour, McMullan slipping the ball to McVerry who from inside the box drilled a low shot towards goal which Muldrew did well to block but only to Carville who kept getting himself into goal scoring positions only to be continually denied, this time by a fine reaction block from the home keeper on his goal line. Indeed Mulgrew was saving his team from a hiding and on 70 minutes he once more denied the visitors. Walker picked out the run of McMullan behind the home defence and with Newry’s top scorer now bearing down on goal Mulgrew stayed upright to block McMullan’s shot with his legs.
There was more to come. On 75 minutes McMullan got a glancing head to Walkers corner, the ball smacking the cross bar and out to McVerry. His cross went straight across the home goal back to Walker on the opposite wing. This time Walkers cross was won by that man Carville who once more was denied the goal he deserved by yet another reaction save from Mulgrew. And with ten minutes left the custodian made his final save of the day when his defence failed to deal with a high looping ball into the penalty area allowing McMullan to jostle for possession which the big man secured before picking out McCabe with a reverse ball over his own head, the winger with a first time half volley bringing a final save from Muldrew.
Newry City’s next game is next Friday 15th January at home to Hanover, kick off 8pm. After the game there will be a fundraising quiz in Social Club, all are welcome.
Newry City: Murphy, Mooney, McCaul, Mullen, McMahon, Walker, McCann, Carville, McCabe, McMullan, McVerry. Subs: Edgar, Curran, Patton, Wilson, Grant.