Newry City scraped through to the quarter-final of the JJB Sports Irish Cup last night with a slender win over Loughgall.
Davy Munster’s goal early in the first half was enough to see the Premiership side through, after a replay, but they were pushed all the way the Championship side.
City went in front on 14 minutes when Niall Henderson curled in a dangerous free kick from the left that saw Paul Keenan and Munster both jump for it six yards out and captain Munster rose highest to head back across Marc Robinson and into the bottom left hand corner.
Five minutes later, the visitors went close to levelling matters when a weaving run from Brian Adair saw him cut in from the left and past two challenges before cracking in a low drive with his right foot from the edge of the area that missed the post by a yard with Coleman at full stretch.
A minute later, City’s most creative outlet, Alan Davidson, broke free in midfield before galloping forward and playing a one-two with Keenan. Davidson picked up the return ball at a tight angle but Robinson came off his line well and blocked.
Six minutes after the restart, Adair nearly got in at the back post to level for Niall Currie’s men after he found space in the box on the right but Coleman came out to smother well and avert the danger.
Two minutes after that, the Villagers were desperately unlucky not to level when Aaron Baker broke free down the right and looped a cross into the area but Paul McDowell’s superb header struck the base of the post and went out for a goal kick.
It was the away side who were doing all the pressing and Adair twice went close within the space of two minutes when finding space inside the box on the left.
His first effort was only stopped by a superb Matt Hazley tackle while his second went just wide of the post after Kevin Keegan just did enough to put him off.
Newry were denied a second goal by some strange refereeing from Colin Burns on 73 minutes. Paul Keenan did superbly down the right wing despite being pulled back by Darragh Peden and then cut the ball back for Davidson to slot into the bottom corner from 15 yards.
For some reason, known only to the official, he pulled the play back for the free kick with the attacking side receiving no advantage whatsoever.
Newry City: Coleman, King, O’Connor, Munster, Black, Hazley, Henderson (Keegan 63), Graham (Boyd 63), Davidson, Garrett, Keenan (Ferguson 81). Subs not used: Devlin, Gallagher
Loughgall: Robinson, Waddell, Pentland, Alderdice, Peden, Smith, Moffett, Adair, Baker, McDowell, Lavery (Brown 81). Subs not used: Harrison, Hawthorne, Ebron, Montgomery
Referee: Colin Burns (Newtownabbey)