Newington Rangers ended a run of four defeats on the spin and secured the bragging rights with Saturday’s 3-1 derby victory over neighbours Kilroot Rec at Castleview Road.
Kilroot remain rooted to the foot of 1C with only five points, six adrift of second-bottom Iveagh United, albeit with two games in hand.
This game was surely the opportunity for Rec’s new recruits to spark a ‘Great Escape’ and inch away from bottom spot to help ensure their 1C status – especially against a Newington side on a bad run. But then it was a derby, and local pride was at stake.
Kilroot supremo Mervyn Smith told the Times: “Newington were more up for it than we were. They wanted it more; they battled really hard and put the effort in. They were making things happen, whereas we were standing waiting on things to happen.
“We just didn’t come out at all. Our new signings just aren’t knitting together as a team yet – and maybe for some of them, dropping down to 1C is not as easy as they expected.”
Newington had a sprinkling of new faces, including midfielder William Magill, who was playing for Larne just a few seasons ago. With Graham McConnell absent, it was assistant-manager Stephen Holland who was holding the fort. “We were good value for our win. We could have had six or seven. Phil McCann hit the post; John Brown had a 30-yard free-kick touched over the bar. I thought it was a good game. A good, old-fashioned derby, in front of a bigger than usual crowd.
“I expected Kilroot to be strong in midfield, that’s why I had Magill in there and I had Graeme Henry there basically to stop Rob Armstrong playing and it worked. I thought Henry was our man of the match.
“Kilroot I thought were maybe a bit over-confident – and they looked like a team under pressure even in their warm-up, they all looked so tense. I just told our boys to go out, relax and enjoy themselves. Kilroot are going to have to start picking up points soon – and I really hope they do it and stay up!”
Newington drew first blood on nine minutes and Kilroot ought to have known not to have given Paul Waite so much platform space at the back post.
Rangers extended their lead on 15 minutes when a low shot from William Magill beat ‘keeper Gordon Priestly. However, three minutes later, Kilroot looked to be right back in it, with Rob Armstrong nodding a Paul Tumilty cross past Rangers’ net-minder, Paul Morton.
The Magheramorne men restored their two-goal lead on 59 minutes when Jamie McGarel nodded in from a corner.