Not one of Newry’s better performances this season and probably only memorable for a goal of the season contender but that will not worry Newry manager Darren Mullen and his team, their only interest being the three points on offer to the winners of Tuesday night’s league game against Fivemiletown at The Showgrounds. Those points, which were secured for Newry with goals from Decky Carville, Paddy Mooney, Mark Patton and a wonder goal from Thomas McCann, place Newry in a commanding position at the top of Intermediate A needing at most two points from two games to secure the league title and a chance, most likely after a play-off, to return to Irish league football which was Mullen’s goal from the day he set about reforming the club. “We now need two points to secure the league title and it’s a little ironic that the first chance to get those points will come at Broomhill where we secured the Intermediate B title in 2014. Broomhill will not lie down for us and I’m sure will make it difficult. Considering Fivemiletown beat us three times last season it was a relief tonight to complete a hat trick of wins against them this season. At times we played some terrific football but poor passing especially in the final third kept the score line down. The second half was good in parts but we did what was needed to get the points and that’s really all that matters at this point in the season. We have been defensively very strong all year and with the attacking threat we pose it has been very difficult for anyone to play against us this season. For now we have a semi final to look forward to and our sole focus is on that game on Saturday.”
As for the game it wasn’t until the 15th minute that either keeper was tested, Thomas McCann firing in a speculative effort from outside the box straight at Fivemiletown keeper Olly Scallon. However better was to come for Newry as Scallons kick out, against the breeze, reached only the half way line where Decky Carville won possession and immediately bore down on the visitor’s box, skipping first past a defender before rounding the advancing keeper and planting the ball into the Fivemiletown net to settle the home side’s nerves. It was Carville who had Newrys next scoring chance after 25 minutes when his header from a Jimmy Walker corner was saved by the keeper. This time Scallons distribution created a chance for his own team, his early kick down field finding Newry a little short handed at the back following the corner, the ball latched onto by Ashley McFarland who made his way into the Newry penalty area and although shepherded wide by a Newry defender was able to get a shot on goal forcing Peter Murphy to turn the ball around his post for a corner.
On 33 minutes a mix up in an otherwise solid Fivemiletown defence presented the ball to Thomas McCann to the right of the visitor’s penalty area. Gifted with a tremendous ability McCann attempted an audacious curling shot with the outside of this right foot, the ball passing inches wide of the far post. Strength in a tackle is another of McCann’s attributes and on 35 minutes he demonstrated all these skills in 30 seconds, taking the ball down the right wing outside and inside challenges which were robust enough for the linesman to flag for fouls but not strong enough to stop McCann who shrugged them off, cut inside the box and from the narrowest of angles curled a shot once more with the outside of his right boot across the face of goal and into the far top corner for a magnificent goal.
On top Newry kept pressing for goal number three, Chris McMahon pushing forward from right back creating an overlap to get dangerous crosses into the Fivemiletown box unfortunate that the ball simply refused to fall kindly for a Newry boot leaving the half time score 2-0.
Much like the first half the second started slowly but when it did come to life on the 65th minute it was worth the wait. Picking the ball up from Murphy, McMahon sprayed an early pass wide to McCann. With the Fivemiletown defence stretched McCann swung a ball from just inside the opposing half arcing into the penalty area just too far in front of McMullan but falling for Paddy Mooney who had gauged its flight perfectly meeting the ball with a sweet shot which fizzed low past Scallon to put Newry 3-0 up. On 78 minutes it could have been four, the recently introduced Mark Patton crossing from the right wing to fellow substitute Stephen McCabe, his intelligent run to the front post not rewarded with the goal it deserved with Scallon pulling off the save.
Minutes later the visitors pulled a goal back when the persistence of Jordan Garrity paid off when he got the better of two home defenders on the by line to cross to the edge of the six yard box from where Jock Kerr gave Murphy no chance with a clinical finish. Newry were in no mood to let the points slip and sealed the win with minutes left when the ever industrious Carville won the ball in midfield and played a perfect ball into the channel for Patton to run onto and from inside the box he drilled a low shot across Scallon into the corner of the net to seal the victory and the valuable points for Newry.
Newry now set their sights on the semi final of the Marshall cup in which they host Banbridge Rangers at The Showground’s on Saturday 30th April, KO 2:15pm. Then on Tuesday 3rd May Newry travel to play Broomhill in their penultimate league game of the season, KO 7pm. Travel club bus will leave The Stonebridge at 6 PM.
Newry City AFC: Murphy, McMahon, Curran, Mullen, McCaul, McArdle, Walker, Carville, McMullan, McCann, Mooney, Subs: Patton, Edgar, McCabe, Grant, Lowry.