Newry City hit four unanswered goals to come back from 3-1 down at Bangor on Saturday to secure all three points and end a run of five successive defeats. In those circumstances to win was even more important than normal for Newry and having gone two goals down shortly after half time the omens could not have been good for the travelling Newry faithful but that’s not how Newry manager Darren Mullen saw it “Anyone who had watched our last two games would have seen the improvement in our play and to me this result was not a big surprise. At 3-1 down for some a victory may not have looked likely but I knew we would make chances and that comeback shows the spirit we have within the squad. After going one up we needed to stay solid for the next five minutes and paid the price for not doing so. Simple defensive mistakes cost us again but at the other end we always looked threatening. We discussed our shape for this game at training on Thursday night and offensively I thought our game plan worked very well creating plenty of chances. We can’t give teams at this level three goals but if there was a dramatic way to win a game then this was it. Once we equalised there only looked to be one winner and thankfully the lads got the reward that their effort and belief deserved. We didn’t panic with our recent poor run and we won’t get carried away with this victory but it gives a good chance to hopefully start putting a run of results together”
With the artificial surface at The Bangor Arena suiting Newry’s fast passing style of play it was no surprise that they opened the scoring with a move woven between four players. Kevin McArdle launching the attack from the half way line, the ball moving through the feet of Mark McCabe, Marty Havern and Keith Johnston before McArdle turned up inside the box to finish the sequence with a shot to the bottom corner of the Bangor net.
Newry failed to protect the lead conceding an equalizer almost immediately from a free kick which was whipped into the box, Ian Curran most unfortunate to turn the ball into his own net. However Newry were creating lots of chances and in quick succession had three opportunities to restore the lead, Havern rattling the cross bar from 30 yards with the Bangor keeper beaten, then Johnston skipped past tackles to cross for McCabe to force a save from Gibbons and to end this flurry of attack’s Mark Hughes picked the ball up on the half way line before meandering his way to the end line before drilling a low ball across the goal mouth which only needed the right deflection to count.
As so often happens Newry were made to pay for not converting any of these chances with 23 minutes gone when they attempted to shepherd the ball over the goal line, the ball retrieved by Bangor and eventually recycled to the edge of the box from where Jordan Lucas gave Peter Murphy no chance with a clinical finish.
On the half hour mark Murphy did rescue his team, a crossed ball to the edge of the box controlled by a combination of the chest and arm of Jordan Baxter and with the Newry fans appealing for handball his low shot forced a fine reaction save from the Newry keeper. McArdle was the stand out player for Newry and the defender had a chance to level the scores before the break, Hughes again picking the ball up on half way before switching play to Havern on the right wing, his first touch into the path of McArdle who shot for the near post only to find the side netting.
Things got worse for Newry on 50 minutes when a well worked free kick from the home side caught Newry napping. With a free kick wide on the right Bangor players congregated at the back post, Newry surprised by a low ball to the penalty spot. Although Armstrong only half connected with his shot the ball broke to Bangor’s debutant Baxter who scored from close range to put his side 3-1 up.
A 6th defeat appeared not an option for the Newry boys as they rolled up their sleeves with McKeown, McCabe, Hughes, Havern and Johnston amongst those turning in with star performances. They got back into the game straight away, McArdle feeding the ball down the line to Havern who from the corner of the box attempted an audacious lob to the far post which Gibbons could only knock down, Hughes first to the ball feigning to go outside his marker before cutting back to an acute angle to beat the keeper at his near post to reduce the arrears.
The equalizer saw Newry back to their best, Hughes and Johnston swapping passes before Johnston picked out McCabe in the box with a pin point cross, the striker cleverly nodding the ball back for Havern to control in his stride before blasting a volley into the back of the Bangor net to level the scores.
It was all Newry at this stage and on 68 minutes McCabe’s persistence forced the home side into conceding a corner which Johnston swung into the 6-yard box perfect for Marcus McKeown to grab the reward for his performance with a towering header to put Newry 4-3 ahead.
For their part Bangor reacted well and had chances for the equalizer both of which required the attention of Peter Murphy. First up on 75 minutes Baxter was on the end of neat passing play setting him up to try his luck from 30 yards, Murphy stretching to tip the ball over his crossbar. And they had a better chance minutes later, Dwaine Beattie running onto a long ball over the Newry defence. Murphy staying big to win the duel blocking Beattie’s shot with his body before smothering the loose ball.
Newry sealed the game on 86 minutes with a carbon copy of the previous goal. Once more Johnston swung a dangerous corner across the goal, this time Mark Patton won the physical battle inside the box rising highest to get a glancing head to guide the ball past Gibbons to secure the points and a morale boosting win for Newry.
Newry next match is another league match away to Moyola Park on Saturday 14th January, kick of 3pm. Newry City travel club bus will leave The Stonebridge at 12:30
Newry City AFC: Murphy, McArdle, King, Mullen, Curran, McCann, McKeown, Hughes, M McCabe, Havern, Johnston. Subs: McMullan, Patton, Lowry, Grant, S McCabe.