Sizzling Seasides suffer Blues
Tuesday, 7 January 2014
A GUTTED Warrenpoint Town manager Barry Gray was pulling the positives from Saturday's agonising defeat to Irish League giants Linfield.
With five minutes left to play the Seasiders led 2-0, and the Warrenpoint's fairytale journey looked set to continue but Town conceded three goals in six minutes to see a famous victory slip away.
Played in front of the biggest crowd seen at Milltown, Warrenpoint Town did everything right, played exceptional football and deserved their lead but crucially they switched off in the final 10 minutes, giving away two needless free-kicks, which led to the goals before Newry man Mark Haughey shattered Warrenpoint's dreams, with a super header to win the game for the Blues.
The Newry Shamrock's clubman had an excellent game for Linfield and after the match he said the league points were more important than any significance scoring against a neighbouring club. The result was hard for 'Point fans to take, especially as they had a third goal ruled off-side.
But Gray was proud of his men.
“It is sickening; everybody is sickened as I thought we had done enough to win the game," said Gray.
“We conceded the first and second goals from sloppy free-kicks and we never really came back from that.
“It was ten minutes of a game that we stitched off and we were beat.
“But credit to the players. We were playing Linfield who are top of the league. They are one of the best teams in the league and are very experienced while we are inexperienced.
“The boys performed well and took their chances.
“We just need to close games out but we will work on that, we are not finished working on many aspects but it is disappointing for the players because we were on a decent run of form and we were 2-0 up in this game and I thought we could have seen it out."
Warrenpoint Town took lead on 25 minutes after Stephen Hughes confidently stroked his spot-kick down the middle, sending Linfield keeper Jonathan Tuffey the wrong way.
Beforehand Jonathan Parr pulled off a super save to deny an Andrew Waterworth header and all afternoon the Warrenpoint keeper was outstanding.
Warrenpoint created few chances in the opening half and Parr was forced to make two further saves and also Linfield were wasteful with Waterworth heading wide at the near-post and Michael Carville blazing over. But on 44 minutes Milltown was rocking as Warrenpoint doubled their lead after Liam Bagnall headed home from an excellent Daniel Hughes cross who had received a short corner from his brother Mark. At the start of the second half Linfield brought on former Northern Ireland international Ivan Sproule and club captain Michael Gault. While former Dunngannon Swifts player Shane Mulgrew made his debut for Warrenpoint, replacing the injured Stephen McCabe. Warrenpoint almost added to their tally when Stephen Hughes' stinging shot from the edge of the box rattled the post.
And with the tails up Warrenpoint played controlled football in the second half and passed the ball about much better than in the first period. Again Liam Bagnall, Stephen Moan, John Boyle and Stephen Hughes were fantastic for the Point. Shaun Parr and Mark Hughes kept pegging Linfield back and Stephen Hughes looked to bagged Warrenpoint's third goal on 73 minutes after his brother Daniel's low cross, but it was ruled off-side. Something, which Gray was unsure if the decision was correct or not.
“Obviously the 3-0 would have chanced the complexion of the game because 2-0 is a very false lead because if a team gets a goal back at the right time then it's backs to the wall really.
“And that is what happened and we did continue to try and score goals and maybe we need to work on that as maybe we don't need to score more goals when winning 2-0, we should concentrate on not conceding any and being in control."
Darren King replaced Paudie Smith and former Newry City player Darren Freeman made his debut for Warrenpoint replacing Stephen Hughes. On 82 minutes the warning came when Parr was forced to save a header from Waterworth. And before another 10 minutes had elapsed it was game over for Warrenpoint. First Waterworth headed home after Freeman gave away a needless free, and on 89 minutes Mark McAllister struck with an equaliser after another free was whipped in and on 90 + 1 minute Newry man, Mark Haughey playing in his first season for Linfield, bagged the winner. But the Warrenpoint Town boss was not getting too downbeat, ahead to Saturday's cup game at home to Chimney Corner.
“The players don't need to be told that we conceded two goals from set-pieces we didn't need to but there are massive positives to take.
“We are just a wee bit gutted because we were on a decent run and that run has come to an end and that is frustrating because we were in the ascendancy and we had momentum behind us but perhaps later in the league we can come from 2-0 down and win at the end too.
“But there is no point in being too critical or picky, we made a few mistakes and were punished by a very good side," said Gray.
“We are disappointed but the big picture for us is that winning or losing to Linfield is not going to make or break our season, albeit would have been nice."
Earlier in the week Warrenpoint super sub Paudie Smith bagged an injury-time winner over Ballinamallard on New Years Day to increase the Seasiders winning run to three in a row, before Saturday's result against the Blues. Played in Ferney Park in Fermanagh it was the Mallards that took the lead through David Kee, but two goals from the in-form Daniel Hughes put Town in the driving seat.
However, Warrenpoint conceded again, this time a header from Mark Stafford. But the Seasiders continued to press and create chances with Smith grabbing the decisive goal two minutes into injury time,
WARRENPOINT TOWN: Jonathan Parr, Stephen Moan, Johnny Cowan, John Boyle, Mark Hughes, Stephen McCabe (Shane Mulgrew ht), Liam Bagnall, Shaun Parr, Stephen Hughes (Darren Freeman 76', Paudie Smith (Darren King 76) and Daniel Hughes. Subs: Ruairi Devlin and Martin Havern.
LINFIELD: Jonathan Tuffey, Philip Lowry, Mark Haughey, BJ Burns, Sean Ward, Matthew Clarke (Michael Gault ht), Jamie Mulgrew (Brian McCaul 50'), Aaron Burns, Michael Carville (Ivan Sproule ht), Andrew Waterworth and Mark McAllister. Subs: Matthew Tipton and Reece Glendinning.
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