While Newry City boss Darren Mullen was rightly delighted with his side’s derby won away to local rivals Warrenpoint Town on Saturday evening, he isn’t getting carried away with their recent upturn in form that has seen them climb off the bottom of the Danske Bank Premiership table.
Before the split, City hadn’t won since last November, hadn’t scored more than two goals in a game all season and hadn’t won back-to-back league matches since their rapid rise to the top flight.
Two games later and they have consigned all those unwanted records to the bin as they moved three points clear of Ards with an emphatic victory against Stephen McDonnell’s men in a match that was essentially over by half-time.
Newry led 4-0 at the break courtesy of Karl Moody and Dara Noonan strikes before a John Boyle double, and while the Point did pull two back after half-time through Josh Lynch and Danny Wallace, they also had Seanna Foster and Hernany Marques sent off, which made their comeback all the more difficult.
“We had to come here and go for it. This is the fifth time we’ve played Warrenpoint this season and we knew we had to go and get at them and stop them playing out from the back. We did that and we pressed them in with our intensity. I thought the lads were terrific from the first minute,” beamed Mullen.
“To go 4-0 up in the first half was somewhere we didn’t expect to be, but it was well deserved. Second half, when you’re playing against 10 men and they’re throwing caution to the wind, sometimes that can be difficult in itself. We needed to pick them off and we didn’t do that, but at this stage of the season it’s just about getting the three points.
“For me, three points isn’t enough in terms of what I would call ‘clear water’. That’s it back down to a one-game swing again. If we don’t go and win against Glentoran and Ards take their chance on Saturday, then everything changes.
“I expect that we have to win our remaining three games. I expect Ards will pick up points in their three games so we have to match or better their performances.”
Moody opened his Newry account with the first goal in the ninth minute when he rifled home following Boyle’s knockdown before Noonan capitalised on some poor defending to crack in the second on 21 minutes.
Boyle nodded home Tiarnan Rushe’s free-kick three minutes later, before the former Point captain made it four just after the half hour as he drove into the roof of the net from 10 yards to send the travelling support into a disbelieving joy.
Foster was then harshly shown a straight red card for a collision with City striker Mark McCabe early in the second period, but Lynch pulled one back as he sidefooted home from close range before Wallace lashed home a fine second to give the hosts and outside chance of a comeback. However, they were all but extinguished when half-time sub Marques was shown a second yellow card for a deliberate handball nine minutes from time.
The performance left Point manager McDonnell fuming to say the least.
“Only our players aren’t on enough money, I would ask them to repay every single fan who came in here today. I’m actually very embarrassed to put my name as manager to this football club at this moment in time. The last two weeks have been totally unacceptable and the true colours have come out in certain players,” he stated angrily.
“There’s a reason why, and this is no disrespect to Warrenpoint when I say this, but there’s a reason why a certain bunch of players are at this club. This will be the only level some of them will every play at. Some of them ambitions to go further, but they need to start doing more.