A Lewis McNall strike in the final moments of the game snatched all 3 points for Newcastle and resigned Co. Fermanagh to a defeat in their opening fixture of the tournament at the Ballymena Showgrounds.
It was Co. Fermanagh who started the brightest and they took the lead when a long throw from captain Eoin Beacom was deflected into his own net by a Newcastle defender after 57 seconds, the quickest goal of the tournament so far.
Following the goal Newcastle settled into the game and started to find some success down the right with Mackensie Heaney and Yannick Aziakonou working in tandem to cause some issues for the Co. Fermanagh defence.
With the pressure starting to be applied, Newcastle were unfortunate not to be level after a corner from the right was flicked to the back post where McNall headed it against his own player on the line and the ball bobbled out for a corner. Newcastle, and McNall, were not to be denied from the subsequent corner which was pulled backed to McNall who swept home the equalizer for Newcastle.
In a rare foray forward before half time, a Co. Fermanagh free kick found its way into the Newcastle box which was knocked down by Beacom to Simon Warrinton who was rebuffed excellently by Newcastle goalkeeper Charlie Freeman at point blank range.
The second half was a quieter affair with both teams having some nice approach play, but both were frustrated in the final third by some outstanding defending. The only chance of note came when Newcastle midfielder Matthew Longstaff slid the ball through for Lewis McNall who took it around the keeper and cut it back to Oliver Long, who could only slash the ball wide under pressure from the Co. Fermanagh centre backs.
Further pressure from Newcastle down the right resulted in a wayward cross from Heaney almost finding its way into the top corner but for the outstretched hand of Co. Fermanagh goalkeeper Josh Brownlee. With the end in sight and Co. Fermanagh feeling they had done enough to deserve a point from the game, McNall popped up in the box and lashed the ball past Brownlee to break Fermanagh hearts. Fermanagh tried to pile on the pressure following the goal, with Seanie Mahon lashing a long distance effort wide, but it was too late and Newcastle held on for the points.
Report by Dion Houston