MARK McCabe's first ever Premiership goal gave Newry their first away points of the season after their 1-0 victory over Coleraine at the Showgrounds, writes Aaron O’Neill.
Mark McCabe’s first ever Premiership goal was enough to secure victory for Darren Mullen’s side in what proved a frustrating night for Irish Cup holders Coleraine.
And Newry manager Darren Mullen was delighted.
“We have done ourselves proud tonight with that performance,” said Mullen.
“I watched Coleraine against Warrenpoint last week and they had probably similar tactics to ourselves, where we defended deep and hit on the counter-attack.
“We knew there would be space in behind and with Mark's burst of pace he was always going to a be a threat and he just needed that lucky break and a bit of a chance to get off the mark for him.
“I thought we were worthy winners and a bit disappointed we didn't finish it off and make it a wee bit easier on ourselves because we had those opportunities.”
And the City boss was over the moon for goal-scorer Mark McCabe.
“It is great for him, he deserves it,” Mullen said.
“People have asked me is he one of those guys who scores in training but not in matches? But he was probably worse in training, but you have to remember he is only a kid and he is coming up after being the top-scorer in the Championship.
“He is in a club where he is not going to get tortured over it. We took him out of the team [earlier this season] and explained to him and told him to take a bit of a rest, just to watch the game and take the pressure of him. It is the same with Stephen Teggart tonight. And he has reaped the benefit tonight.
“You could see relief lifted from him physically once he scored. His whole body language looked sharper. We'll be hoping he kicks on but I am delighted for him.”
The visitors started the brighter of the sides as front man Mark McCabe spurned a great opportunity in the opening seconds. A defence splitting pass sent McCabe through one on one with Johns but the striker’s weak effort was easily saved.
And Newry were presented similar opportunity moments later but they failed to hit the target,
Coleraine fashioned a chance on 14 minutes as Darren McCauley ran inside off the left wing before striking from outside the box. The wingers dipping effort forced Newry stopper Steven Maguire into a smart save.
Ciaron Harkin almost handed the advantage to the home side on 24 minutes. Josh Carson made a great run down the wing before laying the ball off to Harkin who forced Maguire to make a save.
Coleraine had an effort cleared off the line midway through the first half. Josh Carson’s corner was flicked on by Aaron Canning before Stephen O’Donnell steered the ball towards goal only to be cleared off the line by Newry forward, Stephen Hughes.
A neat skill from Darren McCauley allowed him to cross but Ciaron Harkin’s header drifted over.
Newry turned defence into attack and grabbed the lead via Mark McCabe. A long ball forward was flicked on by Stephen Hughes and McCabe lifted the ball over the advancing Johns and into the net.
Coleraine went in search of an equaliser as Gareth McConaghie stepped out from defence before unleashing a strike that whistled narrowly over the crossbar.
The visitors absorbed the Coleraine pressure throughout the first half and remained in front at the break as Rodney McAree’s side looked frustrated against newly promoted Newry.
The first meaningful chance of the second half fell to Coleraine. Josh Carson’s left footed drive from outside the area looked destined for the back of the net, only to be denied by a great save from Maguire.
Newry offered little in the second half as McGonigle and McCauley threatened however both their efforts sailed agonisingly wide.
Coleraine had two half hearted appeals for a penalty in the second half which underpinned the frustration of the home side.
Stephen Hughes almost doubled Newry’s lead but his effort was denied by John’s whilst the follow up from McCabe was well blocked by McConaghie to deny Mullen’s men and Newry almost extended the lead with six minutes remaining. Declan Carville’s low cross was flicked towards goal by the lively McCabe but his effort drifted behind for a goal kick. which annoyed the City boss.
“It was a long second half, I thought Rambo should have finished and made it a wee bit easier for ourselves but I don't think they really threatened us, “ said Mullen.
“They put the ball into the box but I don't think Stevie had to many saves to make so I don't think anyone can deny us our victory today.
“We worked so hard and I am delighted for the fans because they have travelled all over the county and followed us and we had nothing to show for it, so it was great to send them home happy.”
Newry held on for a deserved victory to make it a memorable night on the road and sees them move a little further away from bottom team Institute who drew 3-3 with Glenavon on Saturday.
It was a magnificent result for Newry, as McCabe broke is scoring duck and City won their first away game of the season.
Goalkeeper Stephen Maguire, replaced the suspended Andy Coleman and he really grabbed his opportunity with a fine performance on Friday.
“We need competition throughout the squad and we knew Stevie coming in wouldn't let us down, he was terrific for us and a bit factor in us getting here,” Mullen said.
“He'll be in for three games and if he keeps playing well then it is going to be difficult for Andy to get back in.”
And Newry can make the trip to Dungannon with confidence on Saturday, although Mullen is expecting another tough battle.
“It is very difficult to get points anywhere in this League at home or away,” said Mullen.
“We have been playing well without getting results. Tonight was more a gritty performance, we probably have played better than we did this evening.
“We have played against Crusaders and Ballymena and Stephen Baxter and David Jeffery will be first to say we played extremely well against them. So it is not as if we have been playing poorly against those sides. We just weren't taking our chances enough to win. I imagine most people expected Coleraine to win and that is understandable given our away form.
“The fans have stood by us, there haven't been any criticisms and I am sure they will have a bit of sing song.
“We can't win one and then go and lose a few. I would like to think that we can build on this and this should give us the confidence to do so.
“Dungannon is going to be a difficulty game because they are in and around us but games like tonight and the Ards three points keeps us in there and that is what we need to do because I am sure there could be twists and turns ahead.”
COLERAINE FC: Johns, Mullan, Harkin, McCauley, Lowry (Bradley ‘45), Carson, McConaghie, Burns (Gawne ‘80), O’Donnell (c), McGonigle, Canning. Subs not used: Doherty (GK), Douglas, Crown, Whiteside, Bradley
NEWRY CITY AFC: Maguire, King, Noonan, Boyle, McCann, Carville, McCabe, S Hughes, M Hughes (c), Lavery (Teggert ‘90), Montgomery. Subs not used: Hunter, Walker, Rushe, Healy, Durnin, McCullough
Referee: Tony Clarke.