Newry City have nothing to lose in game in hand versus Loughgall feels manager Barry Gray

Sports Direct Premiership. Tuesday February 13 (7.45pm): Loughgall v Newry City
Newry City's Adam Salley celebrates his goal against Loughgall in October.Newry City's Adam Salley celebrates his goal against Loughgall in October.
Newry City's Adam Salley celebrates his goal against Loughgall in October.

Newry City’s hunt for a first league win since October continues tonight, as they travel to Lakeview Park to face Loughgall.

Following last Friday’s draw at home against Ballymena United on Friday night, Newry remain six points adrift at the bottom of the table, but they do have a game in hand – which is tonight’s encounter.

Loughgall have had a tremendous season since earning promotion last year, and they have ripped up all the pre-season predictions that they would struggle, with 31 points from 27 games leaving them in seventh place, with the opportunity to jump sixth-placed Coleraine, if they avoid defeat this evening.

Loughgall have also had Newry’s number so far this season on the two occasions they met, as Dean Smith’s side triumphed 3-0 at The Showgrounds in the first game of the season, before winning 3-1 at Lakeview Park in October.

With the odds being against Newry, manager Barry Gray believes tonight’s game is something of a free hit for them, and a chance to play with more freedom than they have expressed in recent games.

“It’s a game in hand against a bottom-six side,” said Gray.

“There is not really any pressure on Loughgall in terms of winning or losing, because they are in a safe zone. So, the game may not have the same dynamic as tonight’s game (against Ballymena United) had.

“We know that whatever happens on Tuesday night, the gap can’t get any bigger than six points, so hopefully we can be a bit more confident in ourselves to be aggressive on the front side of the pitch, control patches of the game, and hopefully control the score-line.

“If we come out of Tuesday night’s game and the gap between us and Ballymena is three points, then it’s a brilliant week. We would have taken that at the start of the week.”