Newry City manager Darren Mullen says his side are more than fit for life in the Premiership despite Friday night’s agonising defeat at home to Glenavon.
It was Newry’s second defeat from their opening three games, though the City boss felt hard done by after Glenavon opened the scoring through a controversial penalty where Mark Sykes appeared to go down under minimal contact from home keeper Andy Coleman.
Steo Donnelly added a quickfire second but Stephen Teggart pulled one back for the hosts with his first goal since arriving from Banbridge Town in the Summer.
However, try as they might in the second half, Newry just couldn’t find the equaliser they deserved.
“I’m not one for moral victories, but I thought we deserved at least a draw out of the game.
“We started brilliantly and for the first 20 minutes we were by far the better side. The penalty decision deflated us if I’m being honest and we were probably feeling sorry for ourselves after it and conceded another soft goal,” said Mullen.
“The response and scoring before half-time gave us that lift and then second half, I couldn’t have asked for much more. They ran themselves into the ground.
“That’s maybe small comfort, but when the dust settles we can look back on it and we certainly haven’t looked out of place against a top six side. We should have got something out and even Gary [Hamilton] at the end when we were coming off said we were the better side.
“We just have to forget about it now and take the positives out of it, because there certainly are positives. I know it’s a defeat and there no points for getting beaten but, at the same time, we’re three games in now and we’ve shown that we’re well fit for this league.
“That’s our first game against a top six side and we certainly didn’t look out of place,” he added.
Glenavon Coach Kris Lindsay admitted that his side didn’t have it all their own way as they made it two wins in a row following their opening day defeat to Linfield.
“We ground it out. Newry will be extremely disappointed they didn’t get something from that game. We’re obviously happy to pick up the three points and it’s always important to get them when you don’t play to your levels.
“It was A tough, tough game and we came out the right side of it but we’ll need to improve,” said Lindsay, who felt Referee Tim Marshall made the right call to award the first half spot kick.
“It’s one of those ones where, as the attacking team, you’re looking for it. Sykesy’s very clever. As the defending team, you’re probably disappointed the Ref has given it, but there’s contact there and by the letter of the law it’s a penalty.”