NIFL Premier Intermediate League

Newry City 3 Carrick Rangers 2

Newry and Carrick met at the Newry Showgrounds on Friday night in the first leg of the NIFL Premiership promotion/relegation play-off. Newry came out on top in what was a topsy-turvy match with all five goals coming in the first half of the game.

Despite coming out of the game with the win it was Carrick who struck first in the game as in the 4th minute Andrew Mooney crossed from the right hand side and Darren Henderson was on hand to head home at the near post. Six minutes later and Newry were 2-0 down as Paddy McNally scored from an Eamon McAllister corner.

Darren Mullen’s side were going to have to show all their character if they were to stand any chance of getting back into this game, and in the 19th minute it was game on as Mark McCabe cut the deficit in half. Five minutes later McCabe and Stephen Hughes combined and the latter sent the ball over Carrick keeper Harry Doherty and into the back of the net to bring the sides back on level terms.

Newry were then prevented from taking the lead by the woodwork twice in a matter of seconds as firstly goalscorer Stephen Hughes tried his luck from range and seen his shot come back off the crossbar, his brother Mark had a chance to score the rebound but he couldn’t keep his effort down and it also struck the bar and the ball was cleared by a defender.

Newry did finally take the lead in the 35th minute when Carrick defender Mark Edgar was adjudged to have handled and Declan Carville scored from the penalty spot.

In the second half Newry had chances to extend their lead further, the best opportunity coming when they were awarded a second penalty after Stephen Hughes had been fouled but this time Doherty saved Carville’s weak effort.

The two sides meet at the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena for the second leg on Wednesday night, Newry hold the upper hand but will be hoping they don’t live to regret the opportunities missed on Friday night.