21 SEP 2017
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Hoops bounce back

13 September 2017

Newry Celtic co-manager Liam Evans was delighted to see his team recover from a 5-2 defeat to Rossowen FC in their last league fixture, with five goals of their own against Millburn on Saturday.

This was the Hoops second win from three games and Evans feels it was an important one to kick-off their Premier Division campaign which he says is their priority this year.

“It was a much-needed three points. After our last defeat it was a good way to bounce back. It was our second league win so it was important we got a win today to get off to a good start in the league. That win gives everybody a lift. It was a badly needed three points and the league is our priority this year,” admitted Evans.

For Millburn however, this was a disappointing loss -  their first of the season – as three goals would normally be enough for a win but this match was as erratic as the weather at Drum-alane which switched between sunshine and heavy rain throughout. The goals were flying in at both ends, with the Celts leading 3-2 at the interval with two of the Hoops goals from Stephen Daly and the third from Colm Fegan. Daly nabbed his hat-trick early in the second half and Fegan added his second within two minutes. That took the wind out of Millburn’s sails and try as they might they could only find the net once more, nine minutes before the finish, while the Hoops had done more than enough to warrant victory.

The home side opened the scoring with six minutes on the clock when Gary Linnie cut the ball back to Daly who sidefooted home. 

Their second goal arrived five minutes later when Fegan made a run down the right flank and cut the ball back to Daly who finished sweetly into the bottom corner. 

Millburn’s response was swift however, with Darren McPolin hitting the target within a minute and by the half-hour mark they had levelled the match at 2-2 with a text-book set piece. A corner from McPolin sailed across the face of the Celts goal and found Johnny Cowan at the back post. He played it back in to Davy Walker who headed home from close range. 

Millburn had chances to take the lead in the next couple of minutes with Hoops netminder Barry McParland called into action to palm out a Jason Kelly strike and Ruairi McGivern sent the rebound over the bar. But it was the Celts who went in front on 35 minutes when Fegan got on the end of a ball in from the left and drilled goalward. Millburn goalkeeper Thomas Beggs got his hands to the ball but he couldn’t keep the powerful strike out and the score remained 3-2 at the interval.

The strong breeze favoured the home side in the second half and it wasn’t long before they increased their lead. On 50 minutes Daly played a ball into the Millburn box but Phil McKay was first to it as he slid in with both feet and put the ball out for a corner. Stephen Lowry took it well to Daly who finished to the net and two minutes later it was 5-2 when Fegan beat Cowan and Patrick Beggs and had time to look up, pick his spot and lob the keeper.

McGivern had a chance to pull one back for Millburn moments later when a ball in from the left fell to McGivern’s feet but he was too close to McParland to poke past him and the Newry keeper cleared for a corner. Fegan was looking for his hat-trick at the other end but he fired over the bar on 63 minutes and with that Millburn, who in fairness recovered from the two quick goals, went on the all-out attack for much of the remainder of the game. Shots from David O’Hare and a low effort from Cowan that didn’t trouble the Celts keeper preceded Millburn’s only goal of the half which was bundled into the net in a crowded box by Michael Morgan on 80 minutes to muted cheers from the away camp.

Millburn knew it was too little too late at that stage and some good defending at the end by the Hoops saw the scoreline remain 5-2 and with that Millburn suffered their first league defeat from the three games played.

“There were plenty of goals from us today, which we were happy with, we just have to tighten up at the other end but you’re going to get that anyway when you push forward, you’re going to give teams chances.

“In fairness, Millburn never stopped. They’re a good attacking team. They’re not a bad side but I think we deserved it overall. It was a good performance and it puts us back where we want to be,” said Evans.

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