3 Points Dun and Dusted

A super hat-trick of goals from striker Mark McCabe helped Newry City return to winning ways at Dundela on Saturday securing three very valuable league points which puts them right back into the title race. There was however much more to Saturdays win over Dundela, Newry taking an early lead before conceding two quick goals after the break. That scenario has become all too familiar to the Newry faithful except on Saturday the Newry boys rolled up their sleeves and built a winning lead before toughing out the final 15 minutes with 10 men which pleased manager Darren Mullen “This was a really hard game and one where we are delighted to come away with three points. To be 2-1 down and come back in the manner we did can only be good for the player’s confidence. We’ve been on a poor run of late but the players have never dropped their heads and deserve great credit for turning this game around. Mark McCabe will rightly grab the headlines for his hat-trick especially for his second and third but as a team we worked so hard today. The coaching staff have continuously told the players that no matter what happens if they continue to work hard they will get their rewards. Thankfully that happened today against a Dundela side who will take points off a lot of teams this season especially at home. What we need to do now is take this confidence and work rate into the next game away to Queens.”

The tight confines of Wilgar Park usually mean that goals will flow and Newry had a great chance to open the scoring after only 5 minutes, Mark McCabe cutting the Dundela defence open giving Decky Carville a run-on goal, Jonathan Sergeant quickly off his line to block Carville’s shot. The visitors followed this up with another half chance, Keith Johnston whipping in a cross for Mark Patton to deflect onto the roof of the net with a glancing header. Play was end to end, the Newry goal getting a scare when James Sofley broke down the left wing before fizzing the ball across the face of the Newry net, the danger cleared by Stephen McCabe at the back post.

Newry obviously had their homework done with a changed game plan to hit the twin strike force of McCabe and Carville with long passes and this paid off after 22 minutes when Mark McCabe contested a long ball on the edge of the Dundela penalty area, McCabe the first to react after Sergeant flapped at the bouncing ball, the Newry striker grabbing the opportunity to stroke the ball through Dundela defenders into the net to give Newry the lead. Dundela also had chances, Peter Murphy producing a fine save to turn a shot from Ben Roy around the post. The final chance of the half came Newry’s way, to plan Murphy delivered a long kick out for Mark McCabe to win, knocking the ball down to Carville who was unfortunate to pull his shot wide of the far post.

The home side were quickly out of the blocks in the second half and soon had Newry on the back foot so much so that it looked only a matter of time until the equalizer came, a mixture of bad luck, bad finishing and an excellent save from Murphy keeping the Newry goal intact. However, the pressure had to tell and the equalizer duly arrived after 53 minutes, Roy unfortunate when his effort smacked off the post but equally lucky that the rebound fell perfectly for Mark McCelland to drill the ball past Murphy. With their tail’s up Dundela quickly went a goal up, McCelland setting up Jamie Jackson some 25 yards from goal, the winger giving the Newry keeper little chance with a dipping shot which ripped into the top of the Newry net to give his side the lead.

As they needed to do the Newry boys knuckled down in a bid to rescue the points. Indeed, the chance for the equalizer owed much to a strong fifty fifty challenge from Carville outside the Dundela penalty area, the ball breaking favourably for Mark McCabe. The Newry marksman still had much to do to score but he made it look easy nutmegging the first defender before shooting across Sergeant, the ball hitting the far top corner of the Dundela goal for a precision finish. Newry regained the lead on 65 minutes with a goal set up by the quick thinking of Thomas McCann, his free kick aimed to the feet of Carville on the edge of the penalty area not dealt with by Dundela, McCabe once more alert to the chance latching onto the loose ball before firing an unstoppable shot high into the Dundela net to give Newry a 3-2 lead.

And that’s how it stayed for the remaining 25 minutes despite Newry losing Decky Carville who was sent off for successive yellow cards for technical offences by the very competent referee Matthew Goodricke. That’s not to say Dundela didn’t have their chances to equalize the best of which came after 70 minutes when McCelland, who enjoyed 90 minutes of battle with Newry’s Marcus McKeown, managed to shake off his marker and looked to be clear for a run-on goal only for a perfectly timed challenge from Paddy Mooney who got across to clear the danger and ultimately secure the points for Newry.

Newry now travel to play Queens on Saturday 4th February, kick off 3pm. Newry City travel club bus will leave The Stonebridge at 1:15pm.

Newry City AFC: Murphy, S McCabe, Mooney, Mullen, McKeown, Patton, McCann, Johnston, M McCabe, Carville, Hughes. Subs: Grant, Curran, Lowry, Walker, King.