Mac magic seals Newry victory as City secure top six spot.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Mac magic seals Newry victory as City secure top six spot. thumbnailNEWRY Captain Mark Hughes threads a ball past Dergview defender Matthew Buchanan on Friday evening

ONE touch of Mark McCabe magic, one touch of genius, won Newry City three points against Dergview at the Showgrounds on Friday night and ensured his side a top-six place in the Bluefin Sports Championship.


And the City striker did it with Linfield manager David Healy, on a scouting mission, watching from the stands.

Fifty-one minutes were gone on a wet, windy and cold night when Paddy Mooney picked up the ball with the midfielder accurately lobbing through to the prolific McCabe with his back to the target and a defender breathing down his neck. But McCabe showed his class by controlling the ball in a jiffy, lifting it over his marker before, in virtually one movement, firing into the bottom corner of the Dergview net with an unerringly, wicked strike. It was McCabe's 16th goal of the season and one fitting to win any match.

Yet that goal was one of the few bright moments in a gloomy night of mediocrity. City boss Darren Mullen termed his team's display as 'winning ugly.' The manager wasn't happy with his team's display as he spoke after the game, saying: "It was far from our best performance all year, I think it's called winning ugly.

We didn't play well. In the first half we were terrible all over the pitch. I'll make no excuses as we were far from good enough. At half time we said if you work hard enough, you'll get your rewards. I thought in the second half the quality was still missing, as we know we can play a lot better, but the effort was increased and thankfully we got a goal for it.

"The conditions might have played a part but the good thing is that we're sitting with three points.

There were games where we played well and got no rewards. Tonight we didn't play overly well and got the win so maybe we were due a game like that.

"I said at half time to just keep working hard. We would like to win every game by three or four but it the same three points for a 1-0 win. It's a tough league.

They (Dergview) are down around the bottom but they worked hard. They weren't the easiest to break down but we'll happily take three points for a poor performance.

On that excellent McCabe strike, Mullen brightened considerably as he purred: "The goal was probably one of the few quality moments in the game. A great touch and finish from Mark who is on a good run at the minute." Mullen continued: "We have played some good football for most of the season. Sometimes you get games like this where you don't play as well and then it's just a matter of digging in and grinding out a result.

All over the pitch we weren't good, we didn't keep the ball well and our movement wasn't good enough.

The only good thing is that I don't think we can play as badly as that again.

"And although we didn't play well, Dergview didn't really trouble us. We still had a lot of the ball but we didn't make use of it and we gave it back to them too easily." On missing players, Thomas McCann (suspended) and Kevin McArdle (injured) the city boss was honest in his assessment: "Tucker has been brilliant for us and there's no point in saying we didn't miss him. And Kevin too. But it's good to see Rambo (Stephen Hughes) back on the pitch. Yet at the same time we shouldn't have to make excuses for people who weren't there. It's up to others to come in and step up to the mark," said Mullen.

The game took quite a while to get going but new boy Dara Noonan looked confident as he paired up with the excellent John Boyle in the centre of the home defence - with Darren King switching to a more familiar right back role.

On 13 minutes the hard-working City skipper Mark Hughes set up Decky Carville but the big man just failed to get the vital touch while five minutes later Jimmy Walker was miles too high with a 20-yard freekick. On 22 minutes Mark Hughes found Ruairi Cunningham down the left but the man known to everyone as Jacky, hit a shot/centre just over the bar.

Up until halfway though the first half Dergview didn't really trouble the City defence but on 26 minutes keeper Stephen Maguire had to drop smartly to cut out a dangerous Alex Pomeroy right wing cross. And on 31 minutes Maguire did even better as he brilliantly changed direction to get a right hand to a deflected Ryan Campbell goal-bound drive.

City had a few other half chances before the break but Mark Hughes was inches too high with a powerful left-footed drive as he cut in from the right while the same Hughes just failed to get a foot to a Cunningham cross from the opposite flank.

Newry improved slightly in the second half and were worth that McCabe winner on 51 minutes. But in truth they didn't create a lot after the break - apart from a low drive from substitute Stephen Hughes and appeals for a penalty kick when McCabe was chopped down in the box. Referee Peter McGrath though wasn't impressed.

On the other hand Maguire had to be alert to get his fingertips to a Gareth Falconer 25-yard rocket. Still as Darren Mullen said, regardless whether the team plays well or not it's the three points that count.

And obviously a further three points will be the ultimate goal as Newry travel to Knockbreda next Saturday for another Bluefin Sports Championship match (with a 2pm kick-off). The supporters bus will leave the Stonebridge at 12.30pm.

That win gave Newry a top six place in the Championship and the manager was pleased with that he he said: "Getting into the top six is an achievement in itself. It was our first target at the start of the season and it sets us up for ten important games. But we're not satisfied by getting into that top six we want to push on and win our games but I imagine in those games teams will take points from each other.

"So all we can do is win our games and if we can keep winning one nil without playing well, that's ok. As a manager you want brilliant performances and great wins but the reality in this league is that it's very difficult. And if we need to grind out results, then so be it." It's an exciting time for City fans as the club have three vital matches in the space of ten days. On Saturday, January 27 Newry travel to take on the Championship leaders Institute, then it's Linfield at Windsor in the last 16 of the Irish Cup (February 3) followed by Glenavon in the Mid-Ulster Cup Final four days later. Quite a thrilling time.

When Darren Mullen was asked if he would have trouble motivating his players as they take on the likes of Knockbreda the boss answered frankly, "If players start taking their eyes of the ball and start thinking of Linfield and Glenavon and they're not playing well, they won't be playing against Linfield or Glenavon. If they think too far ahead and their performance levels drop they won't play in those games. These games should be an incentive, not a distraction."

Newry City AFC: Stephen Maguire, Darren King, Dara Noonan, John Boyle, Ruairi Cunningham, Paddy Mooney, Jimmy Walker, Decky Carville, Mark Hughes, Keith Johnston and Mark McCabe with subs: Chris McMahon for Cunningham (64), Marty Havern for Johnston (73) and Stephen Hughes for Walker (77).

Dergview: Stefan McCusker, Matthew Buchanan, Thomas Wray, Lee McNulty, Graeme Taylor, Dwayne McManus, Gareth Falconer, Alex Pomeroy, Ryan Campbell and Simon McGlynn with subs: Conal Arnold, Adam Buchanan and Stephen Browne.


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