Sports

City’s unbeaten run comes to an end.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

City’s unbeaten run comes to an end. thumbnail MARK McCabe grabbed himself his seventh goal in four games for Newry.

NEWRY ended a successful 2017 on a disappointing note, as they surrendered their long unbeaten run in an entertaining encounter at Larne.

Larne...3
Newry City...2

Newry went into the game on a 13 game unbeaten run, a sequence that spanned more than three months and had begun with a victory over Larne at the Showgrounds.

The home side were on a good run of their own, buoyed by a victory over league leaders Ballyclare in their previous game and with a host of high profile signings waiting to be unleashed in the new year.

The contest between two in form teams drew a large crowd to Inver Park which produced a lively atmosphere, the sizeable Newry contingent more than playing their part throughout.

Speaking after the match, Manager Darren Mullen revealed that there could be a few new faces coming into the club in January: "Whilst it's very disappointing to lose the game I can't be too hard on the players as it has come on the back of a terrific 13 game unbeaten run.

"It was a really good game of football with both teams enjoying good periods within the game. What is annoying is the manner of the goals conceded with all three coming from basic errors.

"We got ourselves back into a great position at 2-1 and should have kept the ball better to see out game.

However, Larne are a really good side and will be a test for any side in our league.

"What we need to do now is pick ourselves up as we have a big Irish Cup game to look forward to at home next Saturday.

"Hopefully by that stage we will have added a few new players as the squad has been stretched in the first part of the season and some lads could do with a break.

"Finally, I'd like to thank the fans who turned out in their numbers and were magnificent again for us."


On the pitch, Newry started the game on the front foot and created a chance in the first minute, a Declan Carville and Mark McCabe combination was thwarted by the feet of home keeper Conor Devlin.

Newry were passing the ball well, but disaster struck in the fifth minute as City sought to play the ball out from the back. John Boyle, under some pressure, passed square to Kevin McArdle who was chased down by David Scullion.

McArdle elected to pass back to his goalkeeper, but on a heavy pitch, he failed to get sufficient purchase on the ball, allowing Scullion to nip in and bear down on goal.

Stephen Maguire was adjudged to have fouled the Larne forward, with Ralph Kottoy dispatching the resultant penalty to give the home side the lead.

Larne had a chance to double their lead on 10 minutes, a rather fortuitous bounce falling to Darren Stuart on the edge of the box but Maguire was equal to the task, saving Stuart's effort to his left.

Newry were continuing to get the ball down and play, but struggling to cut through the home defence despite having plenty of the ball.

For all their nice approach play, when they made the breakthrough, it came from a more direct approach.

Maguire's clearance was headed on and Mark McCabe raced in to slot home a lovely finish past Devlin from an angle, his seventh goal in four games.

The goal should have given Newry the impetus to kick on, but instead it inspired the home side to have their best spell of the game.

With their full backs marauding forward, particularly the impressive Jerry Thompson on the left, Larne put Newry under real pressure.

Scullion created a chance for Stuart who headed wide, before further Larne attacks were thwarted by a series of tremendous blocks from Newry defenders.

Darren King, Mark Hughes and John Boyle all did well to keep Newry level and when Kevin Bradley got on the end of a corner, Maguire saved comfortably.

Newry were anything but comfortable, but they had a chance of their own on 27 minutes when Jimmy Walker 's free kick caused panic in the home defence.

Mark Hughes' shot was blocked before Boyle flicked wide. It was a rare moment of promise for Newry as Larne created further chances, Kottoy volleying wide from Scullion's cross with the best of them.

As the half drew to a close, Newry finally established a measure of control and had the final two efforts of the half. Both came from Walker, one a free kick and one from play, both off target.

Newry changed formation in the second half, Mark Hughes pushed up alongside Carville and McCabe and the switch paid dividends.

Now the home defence had something to think about and their attacking from deep was being stopped at source.

Newry were looking a lot more controlled defensively, but there was little in the way of goalmouth action at either end.

That changed in the 57th minute when Newry took the lead for the first time in the game. Carville did well on the right hand side and as he clipped the ball past Barry Holland, the Larne defender was adjudged to have stopped his progress with his hand and Newry were awarded a penalty.

Jimmy Walker stepped up to slot past Devlin for 2-1.

City were as comfortable as at any point in the game and it took until the 66th minute for the home side to create their first chance of the half.

Larne had introduced Julien Anau just minutes before and sought to hit the big man with long balls. The move almost paid immediate dividends, Anau bursting through only to see his shot saved by Maguire.

Newry suffered a major blow shortly afterwards as Ruairi Cunningham suffered an injury and was replaced by Paddy Mooney. The substitution necessitated a reshuffle with Mark Hughes moving to left back and Newry never looked as composed again.

Thompson was back on the front foot and a long cross to the back post saw Anau outjump Hughes to head back across goal where Thompson headed home from close range, despite Maguire getting hands to the ball.

Larne had a new found spring in their step, shooting down the slope, and Anau eluded Boyle to race through on goal, but thankfully for City he fired well over.

On 85 minutes another chance for Larne was pushed around the post by Maguire. The resultant corner eluded a plethora of players before arriving at the back post where an unmarked Matthew Henry headed home.

The goal sparked a response from Newry, but time wasn't on their side as they sought a late equaliser.

Larne retreated to the edge of their box and as Newry got the ball forward quickly they created two decent chances.

The first saw substitute Stephen Hughes fire in a shot from distance that was saved by Devlin, before Carville had a half chance, his shot blocked by Joseph Fornah, who had a solid game throughout.

Next for Newry is an Irish Cup tie against another in form side, Harland and Wolff Welders, at the Showgrounds this Saturday (kick off 3pm).

They then have three more league games before the split and remain in a strong position to secure a top six berth post-split.

Newry City: Maguire, McArdle, Cunningham (Mooney), King, Boyle, McCann, Walker, McMahon (S Hughes), McCabe, Carville, M Hughes. Subs not used: Mullen, Mackin, Crooks.

Larne: Devlin, Henry, Thompson, Bradley, Holland, Fornah, Georgaklis, Kottoy, Scullion, Stuart, Downey.

Subs: Reynolds, McConnell, Tolan, Chisanga, Anau.

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