Dara at the double as City see off Stute.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Dara at the double as City see off Stute. thumbnail MARK McCabe (left) and Dara Noonan (right) celebrate Noonan's second goal at the Showgrounds on Saturday.

TWO Dara Noonan goals propelled Newry City AFC to victory over Institute, the Bluefin Sport Championship pacesetters, at the Showgrounds on Saturday.


Despite their rivals being reduced to ten men after just 32 minutes, City, a goal in arrears, struggled for a long time to break down a dour Stute side. Still the big central defender, voted Man of the Match, showed his strikers just how to do it as he took his brace brilliantly to guide his side to their first win over the league leaders this season.

Although Newry are still four points behind Institute and have a game more played, that win will give the team confidence as they strive to make the Danske Bank Premiership.

City boss Darren Mullen was obviously pleased as he spoke after the match: "It's a big win for us but we need to concentrate on ourselves. We can't control what they do for the rest of the season. We can't complain if they go on and win it. I'm sure everybody would like to be in Institute's position as they are four points clear with a game in hand. It's still in their hands. All we can do is look after ourselves.

"I thought it was a comedy of errors for their goal.

There were a couple of times we could have cleared it but didn't. But after that we had most of the play. When the lad was sent off we were thinking: is this going to be another game where we can't break them down?"

That happened twice before this season. In the first match Institute won 1-0 and then more recently Newry travelled to the Stute and couldn't score despite the home team having a man sent off early in the match.

Darren Mullen continued by saying: "The message at halftime was; we're playing well. We have had a lot of the play in the first half and we will have a lot of the play in the second too.

I said we just had to be patient and sometimes we need to go a bit more direct, like last week. And for Dara to score the two goals was pleasing." City began without the suspended Darren King and the injured Paddy Mooney, Dara Noonan and Keith Johnston taking their places.

In bright sunshine Newry kicked off with the wind in their backs but it was the visitors who created the first real opportunity ... and indeed scored from it.

On ten minutes John Boyle slipped as he was about to clear with the quicksilver Jamie Dunne taking advantage and drilling left-footed past Stephen Maguire and into the bottom corner of the home net.

A huge blow. And City could well have been two in arrears as on 15 minutes Warner Mullen broke clear on the right flank but Maguire finger-tipped his low drive around the post.

Yet after a slow start the city side gradually began to find their feet with Kevin McArdle, Decky Carville and of course Dara Noonan in top form.

Mark McCabe shot wide on 18 minutes and on 14 minutes later there seemed legitimate Newry claims for a penalty when Aaron Jarvis handled in the box.

However, the major turning point in the game came on 32 minutes when Caoimhan Bonner appeared to head-butt Keith Johnston. And the Stute player did it just feet away from the linesman with the referee Neil Robinson flashing a red card at Bonner.

City had a major advantage as then the visitors were reduced to ten men. But a few weeks ago Institute were also reduced to ten men and then Newry were not a goal behind.

Would, or could, Newry make that numerical superiority pay at home? Well for the rest of the first half the home side rarely threatened the Stute goal. And indeed they didn't for quite a while in the second half too.

Another appeal for a spot kick came on 53 minutes when Dean Curry appeared to handle as Mark McCabe took him on. Again Robinson was unimpressed.

On 63 minutes Mark Hughes volleyed past the post and at that stage the home supporters were beginning to get a little worried.

But on 66 minutes the tide turned in Newry's favour. And the City saviour came from an unlikely source.

January signing Dara Noonan hadn't scored for his new club before Saturday yet the raiding central defender was pushing forward on a regular basis and on 66 minutes was rewarded for his efforts.

Jimmy Walker played in a high ball from the right flank with Decky Carville heading down and there was that man Doonan winning a race with the opposing keeper Martin Gallagher before blasting into the Institute net from 10 yards.

And City could have had another two minutes later as Walker and McCabe combined with Stephen Hughes firing over the top.

Institute would have been happy enough with a draw but City needed more. Doonan had been injured in a clash with Dunne on 70 minutes and it seemed as though his match was over. But the big man gamely soldiered on and in fact kept making those forward runs.

And Doonan was in the absolute right spot to get on the end of a super John Boyle long ball and float a header high into the Stute net.

The Showgrounds erupted but the visitors were not quite finished with, on 84 minutes, Maguire having to make a top-drawer save from substitute Sean McCarron.

The match was finished though one minute into time-added-on when Walker picked out Mark McCabe on the left flank. And Newry's top scorer did what he does best, cutting inside a defender before drilling past Gallagher and into the back of the net.

It was a joyful Newry boss Mullen who continued speaking to the press after the game, saying: "They were hard to break down. It was a great ball in from 'Boyler ' (John Boyle) to pick out Dara and it was a great run from Dara. And it was nice then for Mark (McCabe) to finish the game off.

"We dominated - we had all the play and they were happy enough to sit back and they looked happy enough to sit back from the first minute. That's the way those games (against Institute) have gone. They just sit back and hit us on the break and we have trouble breaking them down. But we got our rewards today." When it was put to the City boss that his team didn't have many shots on target, Mullen replied: "Sometimes we tend to be a team that has a lot of possession without creating enough and at times I can understand the fans' frustration. And it's not that we're been telling them not to shoot. Even today I thought we had opportunities when we could have shot but didn't. At this level you need to be patient and take one or two chances ... and thankfully we took ours today.

"All we can do is look after ourselves. We need to win our own games. We've already won two out of two.

We 're currently sitting in a play-off spot and if someone had said that five games into the season we would have bitten their arm off. But we need to keep pushing.

"Next week it's Loughgall which is going to be a difficult game. Although, having said that, every game in the split is going to be difficult.

"If you take the first five games out of the equation, we probably would have been sitting on top. That though doesn't mean anything in the grand scale of things but I would say that at the minute we are probably the form team in the league but we need to keep going.

One defeat could knock us from second down to fourth." Mullen concluded: "When the fixtures were announced we said we needed to give ourselves a really good chance and win the first two home games - and thankfully we've done it."

Newry City AFC: Stephen Maguire, Kevin McArdle, Mark Hughes, Dara Noonan, John Boyle, Thomas McCann, Jimmy Walker, Decky Carville, Mark McCabe, Stephen Hughes and Keith Johnston.

Subs: Chris McMahon for McCann (36), Neil Mullen for Johnston (90), Thomas Hughes for S Hughes (93). Ruairi Cunningham and Conor McCaul not used.

Institute: Martin Gallagher, Ryan Morrow, Dean Curry, Caoimhan Bonner, Mark Scoltock, Niall Grace, Ronan Wilson, Aaron Jarvis, Warner Mullen, Jake Morrow, Jamie Dunne

Subs: Caoimhan McCallion for Dunne (72) and Sean McCarron for Morrow.


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