Town Reserves traveled to Newry Celtic for a Mid Ulster Shield tie on Saturday. This was a massive test for the young reserve side with Newry’s pedigree clear. They play in Divison 1 of the Carnbane League and reached the semi final of last seasons IFA Junior Cup, losing to the eventual winners.
Newry started well as expected, moving the ball smartly, and their 2 strikers caused some uncertainty in the Town back four. Just as the game looked to be settling down Newry opened the scoring with a vicious strike from 20 yards leaving Craig in the Town goal with no chance.
The reaction to going behind from Town was exceptional. They upped their work rate, used the ball well and started to get their strikers into the game. Matt Irvine was causing the Newry back line problems in the air and with his back to goal, releasing Houston and Evans down the flanks. Chances came for Houston when the keeper was out smartly to close him down, and Evans when his shot rolled wide of the far post. Newry did have a few chances too, Canning clearing the best off the line.
The midfield three of Lurgan Town covered every blade of grass and Andy McIvor, in an advanced roll, got a lot of the ball in good areas. Nearing the end of the first half he was fouled and Irvine rattled the bar from the resulting free kick. Soon after a left foot volley from Irvine struck the foot of the post and Town went into half time behind in the scoring but on top on the balance of play.
The second half began with Town keeping up their tempo and not letting Newry settle on the ball. Trainor and McMahon were immense in the midfield, giving their team outstanding work rate. Newry were digging in however, and chances were at a premium for most of the half. Scorah, Bann and Winters were introduced with fresh legs on a heavy pitch. This seemed to spur Town on and with 5 minutes left a great overlap from Scorah forced a corner. From Bunting’s delivery Houston got his head to a flick on to draw his team level.
With the last kick of normal time, McMahon received the ball 25 yards out with his back to goal, flicked it up and hit a wonderful volley on the turn. With the Newry keeper beaten the ball crashed off the bar to deny the Midfielder a winner.
Towns fitness showed in extra time as they were the aggressors for most of the 20 minute period. Winters and Houston were in the thick of things up top, and Freeburn Wing and Bunting were so solid at the back, marshalled by the outstanding Craig. Towns final ball let them down as they pushed for a winner and they ran out of time so faced a shoot out to decide the winner.
Newry took first, and they scored all 5 of their penalties clinically, while Town missed one of their kicks to bow out of the Shield.
Even in defeat this was a brilliant performance by the reserve team. They were the better side on the day, they played some great football and every player but in a massive shift for their teammates.
The team would like to wish Newry all the best in the next round, and we thank them for the tremendous hospitality shown to us after the game.
, Canning, Freeburn, Wing, Bunting, McMahon, Trainor, McIvor, Houston, Irvine, Evans