Historic win for Seasiders
Tuesday, 20 August 2013
ARDS 1 (Faulkner 33') Warrenpoint Town 2 (D. Hughes 74', Devlin 82').
WARRENPOINT Town created a bit of history after recording their first ever Irish Premeirship victory against Ards on Friday.
Played in Dixon Park, Ballyclare, the Seasiders were in confident mood having run Dungannon Swifts close in the opening game, but on Friday night it took several moments of magic to conjure up the historic win.
Goalkeeper Johnny Parr was in magnificent form and he pulled off three saves that would have club owners racing for their cheque book.
Ballyclare's ground is quite narrow, which hampered Warrenpoint's style of using the wings and they got bogged down in a scrappy contest; Ards were winning the physical battle with the Seasiders being forced off the ball much too easily.
Parr was forced to pull off two magnificent saves but he could do nothing to prevent William Faulkner grabbing the opening goal for Ards with over half an hour played.
In the second half, Warrenpoint displayed a bit more fighting spirit and brothers Mark and Daniel Hughes, Stephen McCabe and Ruairi Devlin got on the ball more and were causing Ards problems.
And their persistent pressing forced Ards onto the back-foot, which allowed Daniel Hughes to score a stunning equaliser.
From 30-yards out, he ambitiously latched onto a loose ball and it curled past the Ards keeper for a wonder-goal with 74 minutes played.
But similar to last week, Warrenpoint almost conceded straight after scoring, only Parr again displayed brilliance to claw out Ben Roy's shot.
And with Johnny Cowan, who returned from suspension, and captain John Boyle keeping matters tight at the back, Warrenpoint pushed up for the winner, and again like last week it was the nippy Ruiari Devlin who looked most likely and he showed his marker a clean pair of heels as he raced down the right flank before cutting inside and letting fly with his left peg for a marvellous winning goal.
Defender Johnny Cowan, who missed last week's defeat to Dunganon Swifts, was delighted with the win and insists it is only the start of things to come.
“It is massive as at this level we want to get as many wins on the board and there is no way we are going to sit back and let teams come and think they will get an easy ride with us," said Cowan.
“It is very much the case that we will set out our stall and we are confident that we have the players in our squad that can challenge teams and I think we have shown that.
“There are quite a few boys who came from Newry last season who would have played Premier League teams and been on the receiving end of heavy defeats.
“Whereas we would have played Cliftonville, Ballymena United and Portadown and never really came away with a heavy defeat.
“We have always been able to prove what a good footballing side we are but Friday's win is massive in the sense that we are away from home until the situation is sorted out at Milltown and I suppose our aim is to pick up as many points as we can before we get back there and then try to use the advantage of our home base."
Warrenpoint Town are still awaiting planning approval to start work on the ground at Milltown and the club hope to be back on home soil before Christmas, but until then Stangmore Park in Dungannon will be home for the Seasiders. Cowan believes that playing in Milltown will be a huge factor for his side this season.
“Last year I think a lot of people were surprised with how vocal our support is and the support we have from our wider community with people coming out from Newry, Banbridge and Rostrevor and Warrenpoint itself," he said.
“There is a warmth in our area for Premiership football and to get the win was incredible and as Ballinmallard showed last year, when you get off to a good start it can carry you far.
“We have come a long way over this past four or five years, there are players such as John Boyle and Paudie Smith who have been there since playing Mid-Ulster, so to have come up through the leagues and be playing Premiership football is a bit surreal and it is an opportunity we have grasped with both hands and it was great to get our first win so early in our campaign."
Warrenpoint face a tougher test on Saturday (August 24) at 3pm as they take on defending League champions Cliftonville at Stangmore Park - and Cowan is hoping the Seasiders can pull off an upset.
“Cliftonville have proven that they are not only the best footballing team in the league but their consistency is great and they have some excellent players, while we also have Ballinmallard coming up.
“They are a well-drilled team and really the example they showed last season is a model for us to follow. They showed that there is no reason that you can't come into the league of the big boys and cause a few upsets while playing decent football," Cowan said.
“During the week we will get our heads down and work very hard. It is a very quick learning curve but at this level you either sink or you swim and at the minute we seem to have proven we can get the ball down and play against teams at this level and we need to get as many points as possible.
“It is not the club's objective simply to fight for survival this year. When we think we can beat a team then that is what we will be aiming for."
And while Cliftonville will be a difficult game, the fact that they are playing the Belfast giants in the top flight of Irish League football isn't lost on Cowan, nor is his sense of pride of representing the district.
“It is a bit of a Cinderella story for the club. Four promotions in five seasons isn't something anyone of us expected," he said.
“And it is great when you are playing with and in front of people you grew up with and know, in the stands and on the Facebook page and that goes for Newry people too who support Warrenpoint Town. There are a lot of people in our club from the top right down to the ground who have been involved with Newry City at the club and all we want to do is represent them as best we can."
ARDS: McKibbin, Hall, Spence, J Cully, Moffatt, Faulkner, Smith, Henderson (Arthurs 59'), Roy, P McSowell and Dougan (Burrows 71').
WARRENPOINT TOWN: Johnny Parr, Stephen Moan (Chris Smith 88'), Mark Hughes, Johnny Cowan, John Boyle, Ruairi Devlin, Stephen McCabe, Kenny Kearns, Liam Bagnall, Danny Hughes and Andy Graham (Keith Johnston 52').
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