Newry Reserves made the long midweek trip to Newtownards to face Ards II at Londonderry Park.
After a goalless opening 45 minutes which saw chances missed at both ends, Newry failed to take advantage of their dominance of possession in the second half and found themselves two goals in arrears after 83 minutes.
Newry skipper TJ Hughes netted directly from a free-kick to pull one back for the visitors five minutes from time, but despite a late onslaught on the Ards goal, Newry were unable to find that elusive equaliser.
Speaking to newrycityafc.co.uk shortly after the match, Newry Reserves boss Ronan Casey said: “For all our possession and control we had on that game, it counted for nothing when we weren’t able to capitalise on it. Their goalkeeper had a fairly quiet night and that tells a story in itself. The majority of the chances we had weren’t clear cut and for any that were, we seemed to make the wrong decision. We’ll have to accept that we didn’t deserve anything from the game and learn from it. We are on the road again on Saturday to Ballymena and hopefully we can right tonight’s wrongs at the Ballymena Showgrounds.”
After a lively start by the home side, Newry settled well into the game and had a great early chance to take the lead when Sokei John found himself straight through on goal after 10 minutes. With only the keeper to beat, in a one on one situation, his split second delay in taking the shot allowed centre half Gregg Parker the opportunity to get his foot in and clear the ball to safety.
Newry controlled possession well for the rest of the half, not allowing the home side to get into any particular rhythm. Chances came and went for TJ Hughes, Josh Durnin and Ryan Duffy as the half wore on but there was nothing clear cut and Brett Clydesdale in the home goal didn’t have to work particularly hard to keep his side in the game. The last chance of the first half fell to Ards’ Adam Munn who beat Jordan Mackey to a through ball from Niall Grimley. Just as he was about to strike, a brilliant piece of covering on the inside by Zach Annett saw the ball scrambled to safety, and at that the first half drew to a close.
Half time: Ards II 0 – 0 Newry Reserves
The second half started much in the same way that the first ended with Newry keeping possession for long periods but without really getting in behind the Ards rearguard. It was that lack of cutting edge that would eventually see Newry punished when a ball over the top in the 70th minute wasn’t cleared and Adam Munn ran through to coolly finish past Lewis Hunter from 10 yards, much to the delight of the home support.
This forced Newry to open up a bit more and commit more bodies into attack but as was the theme of the night, they just couldn’t seem to work the ball into areas that would likely trouble the home side. In the 82nd minute, it was two nil when Newry were caught on the counter attack and with men out of position Adam Brown raced through from just beyond the half way line to slot home.
TJ Hughes hit a late consolation directly from a free kick in the 85th minute, but the home side were able to hold on for all three points after late efforts from Tiarnan Murphy and Lee Hutchinson had called Clydesdale into action.
Full time: Ards II 2 – 1 Newry Reserves
Newry City Reserves: Lewis Hunter, Leigh Crooks, Zach Annett, Jordan Mackey, Ryan Duffy, Mark McCullough, Josh Durnin, Lee Hutchinson, Sokemeibi John, TJ Hughes (C), Kealan Morgan
Subs: James Irwin, Jervis McCaul, Tiarnan Murphy, Tiernan O’Reilly