IRISH LEAGUE PLAY-OFF: Tie still alive as Newry City beat Carrick Rangers 3-2 in first leg

Newry City's Stephen Hughes celebrates scoring against Carrick Rangers
Newry City's Stephen Hughes celebrates scoring against Carrick Rangers

It’s all to play for in the second leg of the Danske Bank Premiership promotion/relegation play-off as Championship side Newry City came from two goals behind to win 3-2 in the first instalment at The Showgrounds.

Carrick began at lightning quick speed and hit the net twice in the first 10 minutes as a nervy Newry looked all at sea in the opening exchanges.

Their first arrived just five minutes in when a slip by Newry left-back Darren King allowed Andrew Mooney in down the right.

His pinpoint cross was right on the head of the inrushing Darren Henderson who made no mistake to nod past Steven Maguire from six yards out.

Things got even better for Carrick and even worse for the home side just five minutes later when once again, the City defence failed to pick up and from Eamon McAllister’s corner, centre-back Paddy McNally ghosted in unmarked at the back post to volley home with aplomb.

However, after that, Darren Mullen’s men seemed to settle and gradually worked their way into the game to pull one back 18 minutes in after what can only be described as a howler by visiting keeper Harry Doherty.

Mark McCabe made space 20 yards to turn and fire in a speculative left footed shot that looked bread and butter for the young stopper, but he somehow managed to let the ball slip through his grasp and into the net to make it 2-1.

Then six minutes later, with Newry on the front foot, they levelled.

Kevin McArdle’s clever lay off inside from the right found Stephen Hughes on the edge of the box and his shot took a wicked deflection off a Carrick defender to loop in past the helpless Doherty.

With their tails up, Newry were desperately unlucky not to take the lead a minute later when Stephen Hughes cracked in a superb 25-yard shot that had Doherty Beaten all ends up but came back off the bar and into the path of Mark Hughes.

However, his effort also came back off the bar with Doherty out of his goal.

Amazingly, City hit the woodwork for the third time in the space of five minutes and it was Stephen Hughes who was the unlucky man once again when his low drive hit the outside of the left post after Doherty had saved Declan Carville’s shot.

However, Newry did take the lead 11 minutes before the break when Daniel Larmour was probably harshly adjudged to have handled McCabe’s shot in the box and Referee Lee Tavinder pointed to the spot.

Carville stepped up to send Doherty the wrong way to give Newry a lead that looked unlikely after 10 minutes.

Newry had a glorious chance to extend their lead on 67 minutes when they were awarded a second penalty when Mark Hughes went down as he attempted to get a head on sub Keith Johnston’s cross.

However, this time Doherty guessed correctly and easily saved the midfielder’s weak effort.

Newry City AFC: Maguire, King, Mooney (McCaul 86), Noonan, Boyle, McCann, Carville, McArdle (Johnston 56), M Hughes, McCabe, S Hughes (Walker 80)

Subs not used: Mullen, McMahon

Carrick Rangers: Doherty, Smyth, Edgar, McNally, Chapman (Glackin 70), McAllister (Anau 66), Mooney, Larmour, Kottoy (Taggart 70), Hassin, Henderson

Subs not used: Gage, Morrow

Referee: Lee Tavinder