Newry City were knocked out of this seasons Intermediate Cup on Saturday after a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Championship 2 side Coagh Utd. Playing at the Tyrone venue Newry failed to capitalise on the very best of starts, going a goal up within the first few minutes, failed to convert a number of first half chances and were made to pay by two clinical finishes from their opponents.
However, Newry manager Darren Mullen was not overly concerned after the game preferring to look ahead at what he sees as more important fixtures to come “Although I don’t like getting beat it’s a result that won’t annoy me for too long. Considering we had seven players missing and I made further changes it was always going to be difficult against a Championship side. That said it’s a game we should have won and had numerous chances to add to our early goal. They were a physical experienced side and I thought we stood up well to the physical challenge which we didn’t do enough of last season. Young Andy Martin gave a very assured display in the centre of defence. Kevin McArdle had a very impressive debut and just needs more games to get the match fitness he needs. Keith Johnston also showed up well on his return to the team so there are positives to take from the game. That’s only our second defeat this season and both in cups that I hadn’t marked down as good opportunities for us to win silverware this season. The squad should look a lot stronger next Saturday and we look forward to the Ballyoran game”
Things looked good for Newry as early as the second minute when they benefited from pressing the Coagh team high up the pitch forcing the home keeper, Martin Farnick, to badly slice a clearance, the ball going straight to Keith Johnston who took his time to pick out Declan Carville arriving into the box, Carville side footing a first time shot into the back of the Coagh net to open the scoring. Debutant Kevin McArdle had been handed the difficult task of replacing the unavailable Thomas McCann in the Newry midfield but it was a role which came naturally to the experienced player. On 15 minutes inside his own half he received the ball from Graeme Edgar and drove straight for the Coagh goal skipping past challenges until a final tackle on the edge of the Coagh box from which McArdle attempted to stay on his feet when another player may have gone to ground, his shot when unbalanced not troubling Farnick. Coagh had offered little threat to the Newry goal, their most promising period of attacking play coming after 20 minutes when a ball which was swung across the Newry goal had to be carefully headed over his own cross bar by the covering Paddy Mooney. Play immediately moved to the other end, Mark Patton starting his first game after recovering from a knee operation, with his back to goal collected an Edgar throw in and immediately flicked the ball into the path of Carville who on the run drilled in a shot with his right foot, the ball always swinging the wrong side of the far post.
Newry had a great chance to double their advantage on the half hour mark. Again Edgar was involved, moving forward from his left back role to play the ball into the feet of Sean McMullan. With his first touch McMullan touched the ball back for McArdle arriving inside the penalty area, his low shot tipped onto the post by a diving save from Farnick. Coagh drew level on 38 minutes. With Newry players committed forward for a corner the ball broke favourably for the home side who swept forward in numbers in a passing movement which was eventually finished to the Newry net by Jason Gillespie who gave another Newry debutant, Jack McShane in goal, little chance to save. Newry had one more chance to score before half time, Johnston outpacing his marker to make room to cross, picking out McMullan on the penalty spot, his header beating Farnick but cleared off the Coagh line by a covering defender to leave the half time score level.
Against the early run of play in the second half Newry went a goal down on 50 minutes, the visitors failing to clear their lines and were punished by a low shot across the goal placed perfectly out of the reach of McShane. Newry looked to reply immediately, Patton spotting the run of Johnston who sped away from his markers, his final touch forward unfortunately just too far in front allowing Farnick to come of his line to kick the ball clear as Johnston bore down on goal. Newry were turning on the pressure with Mullen introducing Mark Lowry and Jimmy Walker to try and rescue the tie. Almost immediately Lowry got involved racing behind the Coagh defence onto a Chris McMahon pass, Lowry hitting a side foot volley across the face of goal only to be scrambled clear by the home defence. The ball however only travelled as far as Carville who picked it up mid way inside the Coagh half from where he made his way to the end line, his low cross cut out inside the small box by Farnick diving at the feet of the incoming McMullan.
Unfortunately that was to be the last goal scoring chance of a game, which had always been a little tempestuous with personal battles all over the pitch, and which finally turned against Newry in the last few minutes when the referee showed a red card to Carville after an aerial challenge with Gillespie.
And so Newry bowed out of the Intermediate Cup in a game in which they were best served by a couple of new players, young Andy Martin in the centre of defence and debutant Kevin McArdle in midfield and by some regular faces, Chris McMahon who played a captains role throughout and Keith Johnston who had the better of the home defence every time he got the ball.
Newry’s next match next Saturday is another cup tie when they travel to play Ballyoran in the Mid Ulster Marshall Cup, kick off 2pm. Newry City travel club bus will leave The Stonebridge at 12:30.
Newry City AFC: McShane, Mooney, Curran, Martin, Edgar, McMahon, McArdle, Carville, McMullan, Patton, Johnston Subs: Walker, Lowry, Mullen, Wilson, Murphy.