Two points dropped or a valuable point gained was the question among the Newry supporters after Saturdays 1-1 draw at Moyola. Having dominated the opening half most would have been of the opinion that it was points dropped by Newry. However, after a lethargic second half during which Moyola fully merited their equalizer and a share of the points, news that league leaders Limavady had been beaten put a very different slant on the result, a point which wasn’t lost on Newry manager Darren Mullen after the game ‘Although it’s disappointing not to get the win we have to look at what could be a very valuable point. Every week this league throws up unexpected results so we just need to keep ourselves in with a chance and that’s exactly what we are doing. We didn’t play well enough today but should have been more than one up at half time especially with the chances we had created. The second half was a scrappy affair and we had no real rhythm to our play. They were dogged and difficult to break down so we should give them credit. I thought at the time Kieran Gordon could have got a hand to the Moyola goal but after seeing it again it was just one of those wonder strikes and one where you just have to take your hat off to the lad. We now have two vital home games in row and with players to come back from injury/suspension we are looking forward to them.
Newry started the game the brighter of the two sides, Mark Hughes creating a shooting opportunity for Decky Carville after only two minutes, Carville’s goal bound strike from the edge of the box blocked by Craig McAllister. With ten minutes on the clock Newry thought they had unlocked the Moyola defence when a super pass from Timmy Grant released Carville inside the box, the Newry centre forward denied by a last-ditch block from Steven McQuillan. For once route one football appeared to be Newry’s best option. With 20 minutes gone a long kick out from Kieran Gordon was won in the air by Grant, Keith Johnston running between defenders to latch onto Grants header before shooting across goal, unfortunate to see his effort hit the base of the post. Play swung to the other end with Moyola having their first strike on the Newry goal, John Boyle who turned in another flawless display at the heart of the Newry defence blocking Daniel McIlhattons shot.
On the half hour mark Boyle showed the other side to his game in a move which saw Newry take the lead. With play on the Newry left Boyle changed the direction of attack with a diagonal 50-yard pass which Grant once more won in the air cleverly picking out the forward run of Kevin McArdle, the right back continuing his run to the end line before drilling a low ball across the face of goal, Hughes alert to Johnston’s flick, on hand to turn the ball home to give Newry a deserved lead. It took an impressive save from Kieran Gordon on 41 minutes to preserve that lead at half time, McIllhatton slicing the Newry defence giving Taggart a clear sight of the Newry goal, Gordon quickly off his line to smother the centre forwards effort.
While neither side established any rhythm to their play in the second half it always looked like Newry needed a second goal to secure the win and on 72 minutes that proved to be the case. Awarded a soft free kick some 35 yards from goal in a central position there looked to be little threat to the Newry goal. That appraisal however didn’t take account for a wonder strike from substitute Curtis Hassan, his shot dipping just below Gordon’s cross bar with the Newry keeper floundering. Newry’s answer was to change their strike force and with time running out the switch almost bore dividends. Once more direct route passage of play, Gordons long ball cleverly chested on by Sean McMullan, Johnston winning the race for the ball with Moyola keeper Martin Farniok, Johnston again unfortunate to see his lob over the advancing keeper fall the wrong side of the cross bar to leave the final score 1-1.
Newry now have two home games which will define their season. On Saturday 1st April third placed Donegal Celtic are the visitors to The Showgrounds for a 3pm kick off. The following Saturday, the 8th April, Newry will entertain the league leaders Limavady at The Showgrounds, again kick off at 3pm.
Newry City AFC: Gordon, McArdle, McCaul, Curran, Boyle, McCann, Patton, Grant, Carville, Johnston, Hughes. Subs: McCabe, McMullan, Havern, McMahon, McKeown.