Newry City’s run of poor results continued on Saturday with a defeat away to local rivals Banbridge Town. And as in previous games the Newry boys have themselves to blame, this time losing the lead to opposition who had earlier been reduced to ten men. That said, the Newry supporters will also point to a penalty decision by referee Banks which simply baffled most of those present and which ultimately provided the home side with the winning goal. All of this excitement arrived in the second half after an opening 45 minutes which saw lots of neat passing but little in the way of goal mouth action, Jordan King and Mark Hughes linking up on the left to create Newry’s only decent chance of the half, a shot from the edge of the penalty area from Jimmy Walker which was dealt with by Banbridge keeper Tuda Murphy. For their part the hosts also struggled to create anything worthwhile, defender Danny Devlin making the most of a lapse in concentration from Newry to steal forward and collect a throw in before testing Peter Murphy, the Newry custodian equal to the task.
The second half started with much more vibrancy then the first, Conor McCaul finding Sean McMullan on the edge of the box, the Newry striker immediately feeding the ball to Mark Hughes who drilled his shot over the bar. On 55 minutes Newry had a great chance to open the scoring when Walker floated a corner to the back post where Ian Curran had found space but was unable to get his header on target. On the hour mark Banbridge had a fleeting chance, a dangerous free kick from player manager Stuart King requiring the intervention of Mark Patton to snuff out the threat.
Minutes later saw a moment of madness from the Banbridge player manager when he slid into a reckless challenge for a loose ball with Newry’s Mark McCabe. While the Newry player did well to avoid any damaging contact Banks had no hesitation in showing King a straight red card. Newry immediately made the most of the extra man advantage, Hughes cleverly finding Walker on the edge of the box, Walker adjusting his feet for a swerving shot on goal which Murphy could only knock down, perfect for the alert McCabe to snap up the chance to give Newry the lead.
Banbridge reacted in the best way possible drawing level within a matter of minutes. Created by Devlin on the left wing his cross was headed from almost the goal line but only to the edge of the box perfectly for Kevin Anderson to meet on the volley smashing the ball in off the underside of the Newry crossbar. While both sides swapped half chances the defining moment of the game came courtesy of referee Banks with ten minutes left. From a corner on the right Newry keeper Murphy punched the ball clear only to see Banks inexplicably pointing to the penalty spot for an infringement which it appeared only he witnessed and which no Banbridge player appealed. Despite the disbelief of the Newry players the decision stood and from the penalty Ryan Moffatt sent Peter Murphy the wrong way drilling a low shot into the bottom corner for the winning goal.
Although this was Newrys fourth defeat on the trot manager Darren Mullen took some encouragement from his team’s performance ‘Although it’s another defeat unlike previous games there are positives to take from it. I certainly can’t fault the players for their work rate and effort throughout the game but basic defensive errors have cost us dear again. Our shape was good in what was a very tight game with limited chances but once we went ahead especially against ten men then there are no excuses for throwing the game away. Their equaliser albeit a super strike should have been closed down quicker and then to concede what was never a penalty makes it harder to take. That said we need to turn things around very quickly and as manager it’s up to me to make sure that happens.’
Newry City now turn their attention to the next league match away to Limavady on the 30th December, kick off 8pm. Newry City travel club bus will leave The Stonebridge at 4:15pm.
Newry City AFC: Murphy, Edgar, McCaul, Curran, King, McMahon, Walker, Patton, McMullan, McCann, Hughes. Subs: McCabe, Grant, McArdle, Havern, Mooney.