Keith Johnston (12)

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Keith Johnston grabbed Newry's winner early in the game (Brendan Monaghan/Newry City AFC)

JOHNSTON WINNER HELPS NEWRY KEEP UP TITLE PUSH

Newry City kept on the heels of Championship leaders Institute following a narrow 1-0 win over Loughgall at the Showgrounds.

Keith Johnston’s strike in the 12th minute proved to be the difference between the sides on the day, although a depleted City side will feel they should have won by more after spurning a number of further chances.

Johnston's goal arrived when he was played in just inside the penalty area, Johnston keeping his cool to slot past Loughgall keeper Gareth Buchanan from 15 yards.

Buchanan then did well to beat out a stinging effort from the league's top scorer Mark McCabe just before the half hour before City had a penalty appeal turned down right on half-time.

Early in the second half, Buchanan tipped over a Stephen Hughes effort from distance while at the other end, Newry 'keeper Steven Maguire produced an excellent reflex stop to deny Ricky Copeland a leveller from a header on 56 minutes.

Newry should have doubled their lead three minutes after the hour when goalscorer Johnston cut the ball back from the right hand side and Buchanan was only able to push it into the path of Hughes eight yards but, with the goal at his mercy, he somehow managed to sidefoot it over the bar.

Despite the visitors pushing hard in the final minutes of the game in their search for an equaliser, the league's best defence stood firm to keep another clean sheet and claim a vital three points in their quest for promotion.

Newry City: Maguire, Noonan, Mooney, McMahon, Boyle, McCann, McCaul, Carville, McCabe, S. Hughes, Johnston subs Mullen (not used), Havern (not used), Mackin (not used), King (replaced Hughes 90+3), Cunningham (replaced Mooney 73)

Loughgall: Buchanan, Neill, Rea, Copeland, Stewart, Dallas, Mullen, Montgomery, Liggett, Ferris, Hoey subs McConnell (replaced Mullen 71), McMaster (replaced Montgomery 71), McDowell (replaced Dallas 71), Stretton (not used), Robinson (not used)

Referee: Gareth Stewart

Tags:  Loughgall  Newry City