Belfast Telegraph

Cliftonville need big improvement, says Patterson

By Graham Luney

Eddie Patterson has warned his Cliftonville players to raise their game dramatically against Portadown or forget about appearing in another Irish Cup final.

The Reds went on a superb Irish Cup run last season but they fell at the final hurdle as north Belfast neighbours Crusaders lifted the trophy in May.

Mark Dickson’s goal shattered the Reds’ dreams but it’s those heartbreaking moments that drives players on to success.

There should be no motivation required when they visit Shamrock Park today for one of the ties of the sixth round but Patterson knows his players will need to play with more hunger and conviction than in their disappointing 2-1 defeat to Ballymena United on Tuesday.

That loss followed hot on the heels of a 1-1 stalemate at Newry City as the Reds’ stunning nine-game winning league run came to an abrupt halt.

So is the Reds bubble bursting or is this merely a bump on the road to the promised land?

“If we show the same attitude against Portadown as we did against Newry City and Ballymena United then we can forget about winning the Irish Cup,” said Patterson.

“Teams will get on top of you if you let them and we just did not get started against Ballymena United.

“Perhaps a few players need a break in our team.

“There are other players who want to have a run in the team and perhaps the time has come for me to make changes.

“I cannot accept performances like that one this week.

“Teams are going to play with a lot of determination against us and we have to match them.

“Players should not think their place in the team is safe because it isn’t — not when there is another player who deserves to get a chance.

“All I ask is that players do their jobs and put the effort in — not fail to get going as we did against Ballymena United.”

The draw at Newry City was a warning sign to the Reds players, but Patterson feels his men failed to heed that warning.

“It was obvious that players were going to be in their faces,” added the Solitude chief.

“We made a few changes to try and get back into the game against United but the damage was done in the opening minutes.

“The fact that we had went on a good run made us more vulnerable as other teams were determined to bring us down.

“Another Irish Cup run would be fantastic but we have to start showing respect to other teams.

“The attitude of the players will have to change if they want to go on and win silverware this season.”

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