Newry City moved into the semi final of the Marshall Cup with a comprehensive win at Tandragee Rovers on Saturday when two goals from Sean McMullan and one from Decky Carville secured their eighth win in a row and a home semi final against Banbridge Rangers.
Fresh from a double figure victory last week Newry played some delightful passing football and created a host of chances, the first coming after five minutes when Thomas McCann and Decky Carville exchanged passes in the middle of the park before finding Keith Johnston wide on the right. Johnston, who was to have an excellent game, turned his marker inside out before crossing to the penalty spot where Sean McMullan had his first attempt on goal of the day, a headed effort which was blocked by a Tandragee defender.
Johnston himself had the next strike on goal, once more Carville provided the opportunity, from wide on the right Johnston took the ball into the box and from an acute angle attempted to steer the ball into the far corner unfortunately pitching his shot too close to Richard McGivern. At the other end any danger to the Newry goal was snuffed out by the Newry defence with Conor McCaul and in particular Ian Curran looking unbeatable.
Newry almost opened the scoring on the half hour mark when Johnston once more got the better of his opponent before whipping a cross into the box which was met by Thomas McCann, unfortunate to see his header canon off the cross bar with McGivern beaten. The danger had not passed with McGivern coming to his sides’ rescue, Jimmy Walker picking up the rebound, skipping along the edge of the penalty area to make room for a shot which McGivern gratefully smothered. The visitors were piling on the pressure and almost immediately created another great chance. Beginning in their own half with Graeme Edgar who rolled the ball to Carville, the move burst into life when Carville turned, fed the ball to McMullan before running onto the return pass. Now bearing down on goal and with McGivern advancing from his line Carville flicked a shot with the outside of his foot denied by a Tandragee defender who had retreated to the goal line to clear.
Newrys opening goal came on 37 minutes. In possession mid way inside the Newry half Tandragee attempted to switch play from right to left with a cross field ball which was read by Chris McMahon who intercepted the pass and knocked the ball forward all in the same movement. McMahon continued into the Tandragee half before finding Walker on the edge of the box. With the deftest of flicks Walker laid the ball back to McMullan who swept a curling shot around a wall of players into the bottom corner of the Tandragee net. Newry could have had the game wrapped up by half time creating further chances before the break.
First Conor McCaul strode out of centre defence taking the ball mid way inside the Tandragee half before finding Johnston out wide. Johnston again tormented his marker, this time with a nutmeg, before picking out the run of Timmy Grant along the six yard box, his shot charged down only as far as McMullan who was denied by McGivern.
And on the stroke of half time McMahon once more ventured forward, playing a one two with Walker before drilling his shot past McGivern but denied a goal by a covering Tandragee defender who cleared from his goal line leaving the half time score 1-0 in Newry’s favour.
The second half started slowly taking some 15 minutes before either goal was threatened. This time it was Tandragee who were unfortunate Dean McCammond whipping a low cross to the near post, Johny Black the first to the ball which he poked inches wide of the upright. That was to be as close as the home side came to scoring with McCaul and Curran mopping up when there was a sniff of danger to the Newry goal. In reply to Blacks chance Newry’s response was instant, Grant cutting in from the left to find Walker, he in turn teeing up McMullan and with the big man about to pick his spot the ball took a little bobble which caused him to blast over McGivern’s cross bar. Newry doubled their advantage on 70 minutes with a well worked free kick some 25 yards from goal, Walker picking out the run of Carville to the near post area, Carville flicking the ball with a glancing header back across McGivern nestling inside the far side netting to put Newry 2-0 up.
The visitors kept pressing Walker playing the ball into space in front of Johnston. Again the winger got the better of his marker taking the ball to the end line before pulling it back into the box where Walker stepped over it allowing the ball to run into the path of Patton who kept his strike, from the edge of the box, low but unfortunately straight at McGivern who saved. There was little McGivern could do about the final goal of the day. Created by Neil Mullen who picked the ball up inside his own half Mullen strode forward and with everyone expecting a pass to Walker who had kept pace with him, Mullen cleverly switched play across the box to McMullan who had pulled away from goal and now with time and space picked his spot drilling the ball past McGivern into the back of the Tandragee net to finish the tie.
After the game as ever Newry manager Darren Mullen was keen to take one game at a time “If anyone thought that we wouldn’t put as much effort into the last remaining cup with important league games coming up then they were sorely mistaken. We attacked Tandragee from the first minute and should have been more than a goal up at the break. The strength of our squad showed today with Keith Johnston coming in as a late replacement and he was a constant threat throughout the game.
“Replacing Stephen McCabe so early in the game also allowed Timmy Grant to get a good workout and he will be a big addition in our remaining games. Our goals have been creating headlines lately but our defence deserve great credit for another clean sheet. Any successful team is built on a solid defence and they were super again today. Conor McCaul looked like he had never been away and along with Murphy, McMahon, Edgar and Curran they dealt with anything Tandragee had to offer. Ian Curran in particular reads the game so well and won everything in the air today. Winning becomes a habit and whilst we are on a good run there’s still a lot of work to do and we will now concentrate on Tuesday night.”
Newry now have two league games in quick succession. On Tuesday 12th they travel to Bignian Park to play Valley Rangers KO 7:30 PM. Travel club bus will leave The Stonebridge at 6:15 PM. On Friday (15th) Newry welcome Lower Maze to The Showgrounds KO 7:45 PM.
Newry City AFC: Murphy, McMahon, Edgar, McCaul, Curran, McCann, Walker, Carville, McMullan, Johnston, McCabe. Subs: Grant, McArdle, Patton, Mullen.