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 Linden Cup Semi Final

Newry 1's 4-1 North Down 1's

Newry travelled to Stormont on Sunday to face North Down in the Semi final of the Linden cup on Sunday. This was always going to be a close affair between two of the top sides in the Senior 1 division. In the other half of the draw either Portadown or Campbellians lay in wait for the winners.

Newry flew out of the traps and quickly found themselves one up when John Taylor after a marked improvement from set pieces from last season fired home a low drag flick. North down seemed to get woken up by this and went on the offensive. They pushed forward and even after forcing a number of short corners, they could not find an opening. The first half flew past quickly with free flowing and fast paced hockey that all the spectators were enjoying.

Newry started sluggish in the second half and were rarely out of their own half with any intent within the first five minutes of the restart. North Down capitalized on this and scored with a fierce, high drag flick of heir on. For the next 15 minutes the game went through a cagey nervous stage with neither time looking to commit too many players. However after Newry forced a number or successive short corners John Taylor again popped up and fired home a thunderous low flick to give Newry the lead.

As North Down pressed they started to get a bit reckless in the challenge forcing the umpires to take action and reduce them to 10 men which took away from the great game of hockey everyone had came to see. The next phase of play was top drawer from Newry as right back and captain Colin Henning picked the ball up in defence, carried the ball forward and fired it into the path or David England as he maid a defence splitting run. As the keeper advanced England dropped the shoulder to put the keeper the wrong way, drew the ball around him and fired home to assure Newry the points. There was still time for one more when Newry one another short and this time David England turned provider as he fired the ball into the back post and diving Robert Irwin deflected it in to leave it 4-1 Newry.

Newry now take on Portadown in the Linden Cup final on New Years day at Deramore Park in their hunt for silverware this season. Newry take on Campbellians next Saturday in the latest round of league fixtures.

Team: R. Hanlon, N. McKnight, N. Liggett, N. Davenport, C. Henning, J. Taylor, C. McKnight, D. England, R. Irwin, K. McCombe, A. Gilmer, D. Andrews, R. Nummy, K. McWillaims, J. Greer

Kilkeel 2's 3-4 Newry 2's

Newry Seconds travelled over the Mournes to meet local rivals Kilkeel and emerged with their heads held high and all three points, a hattrick for the returning Keith McWilliams and a winner from Nigel "Scruff" McGuffin.

Newry switched to a 4 4 2 formation with McCafferty anchoring the diamond, flanked by Foster and Adams with Davy Andrews taking the link man role to the pacey attack of Keith McWilliams and Scotty Blakely. It took some time for the team to get used to this formation as Kilkeel flew out of the traps and took command of the game in the first 20mins. The team after some time relaxed into this new formation and took control of the game, putting together some tidy passing moves and showing greater composure on the ball than in recent weeks. 

Newry stuck with the back four which played the second half at Garvey last week with perennial full backs Andy Henning and Daryl Barlow either side of Andy Baird at centre back and Ben Scott as Sweeper. The major change at the back was from hit outs with the full backs pushing forward to make space for Scott to operate and this proved to be a successful tactic.

With the onus on home side, Kilkeel, to attack Newry used the powerful hitting of McCafferty to the wings to find McWilliams and Blakely in the corners and this meant that Newry always looked dangerous. While this direct approach proved to be very effective it was passing moves that brought both first half goals. The first was down the right with ever reliable McWilliams slotting home while the second saw Newry attack down the right before McCafferty slipped the ball under his arm to the left with advancing sweeper Scott driving into space and slipping a reverse ball into the D leading to a short which McWilliams tucked away after a rebounded McCafferty effort. 

At half time the Newry men were reminded that the game wasn't won yet and this proved to be the case as Newry briefly made an Ill fated switch to 4 3 3 and Kilkeel made the best of their pace to drive straight at the Newry backline and force several short corners. Justin made several good stops from these but was unlucky with one when he got a stick to it but couldn’t keep it out while another was deflected in at the left hand post. 2 - 2 game on.

Keith McWilliams was the key attacking threat last term for Newry and with Davy Hogg and Johnny McWilliams both still injured he once again terrorised the opposition back line, making it 3 2 with a driving run and strike from the left. Kilkeel pushed for the winner and Elliott was impressive between the sticks for Newry with the back four and midfield digging in to defend deeper. Two more breaks saw one shot from McWilliams almost reached by Scruff at the back post before McWilliams opted to pass on the second occasion for Scruff to show composure and fire home the winner. In the dying minutes Kilkeel added a third and Scruff tangled with the Kilkeel keeper as Newry did enough to see this one out.

On reflection Newry deserved this much needed victory and they will take a lot from this mountain raid, both in terms of the positional and tactical changes and in terms of confidence.

Team: Justin Elliott, Andrew Henning, Andrew Baird, Ben Scott, Daryl Barlow, Adam Foster, Simon McCafferty, Warren Adams, David Andrews, Keith McWilliams, Scott Blakely., Nigel McGuffin.

Results

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