A clever free kick and a lot of resolute defending was the Donegal Celtic recipe which won the points at The Newry Showgrounds on Saturday. Possession wise a game from which Newry will wonder how they didn’t come away with at least a point. However, given that for almost an hour they played against ten men the Newry boys will concede that they didn’t create enough goal chances and when the best one came along, a spot kick on 75 minutes, they failed to trouble the keeper.
Newry opened much the brighter and were on top for the first 20 minutes, Mark Hughes, Decky Carville, and Mark McCabe all with half chances. They were however caught cold after 28 minutes. With a free kick deep inside the Newry half and the home side expecting a cross into the box the ball was played back to Donegal Celtic defender Karl Rossborough who, on the edge of the penalty area, took one touch to make room before drilling in a low shot which Kieran Gordon could only get a hand to, the ball hitting the inside of the far post and into the net to put DC into the lead.
On 35 minutes DC were reduced to ten men when Niall Derry was shown a 2nd yellow card. The reduction in numbers however only deepened the visitors resolve to protect their precious goal lead. Content to give Newry possession in the middle 3rd of the pitch DC allowed Newry only very brief glimpses of Sean McIlhone’s goal until the 75th minute when referee William McCahon, who had made wise use of his yellow card to keep control of the game pointed to the spot for a blatant hand ball. When the experienced Mark Hughes placed his effort the wide of McIlhone’s post the Newry faithful probably felt it wasn’t going to be their day. There were further chances to grab a point, a Thomas McCann snap shot bringing a smart save from McIlhone and a hooked effort from Sean McMullan which beat the keeper but dropped the wrong side of the cross bar but try as they might the Newry boys couldn’t make that vital yard of room in a congested penalty area, DC holding on to maximum points.
‘It’s very hard to criticise the players after that game because we will play worse and win games. Once the penalty didn’t go in I knew it was just going to be one of those days and we just have to get over it very quickly. The second half was just one way traffic but we didn’t do enough to test their keeper. We created numerous chances but through a mixture of bad luck and good defending the ball just wouldn’t drop in the right place for us. As a club we are thriving being back in Irish league football and although yesterday was a setback in our aim for promotion we are ready to battle right until the last minute of this season. We are in the top six for the split which is an achievement in itself considering we are in our first season but as a group we want to push on and I’ve no doubt we will have a big say in the promotion race.’
Next Saturday, 8th April NCAFC welcome league leaders Limavady to the Showgrounds. Kick off 3pm.
Match Highlights https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f01UF2dKTH8
Newry City AFC: Gordon, McArdle, Boyle, Mooney, S McCabe, Patton, Hughes, McCann, Carville, M McCabe, Johnston Subs: McMullan, Curran, McCaul, Durnin, Grant.
Donegal Celtic: McIlhone, Rossborough, Burns, Wilson, Kopyt, Doyle, Derry, Monaghan, O’Neill, Hughes, Stuart. Subs: O’Connor, Feher, McVarnock, Mooreland, McClory.
Photographs courtesy of Brendan Monaghan Photography.