Belfast Telegraph

Reds stars are facing the axe, warns Breslin

Cliftonville 1-1 Dungannon

By Conor McLaughlin

Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin warned his underperforming stars to shape up or ship out following a woeful display against Dungannon Swifts.

While it was the visitors who benefited from huge fortune to bank an injury-time draw, the truth is the Reds were lucky to pocket any points at all as their search for a first home win of the Danske Bank Premiership season continues.

Ahead thanks to Joe Gormley seizing on a rare moment of indecisiveness from the Dungannon defence early in the second half, the champions were pegged back on 93 minutes when goalkeeper Ryan Brown's poorly-executed punch fell invitingly for Swifts' David Armstrong.

Though his tame header failed to get past George McMullan on the goal-line, the Cliftonville skipper smashed his clearance against Brown and looked on in horror as the ball ricocheted into the back of the net.

"That's absolutely not good enough, it's as simple as that," blasted Breslin.

"Too many players are underperforming and the way we have played in our last three league matches is unacceptable.

"From the very start, we didn't get going and even if we'd held on to win 1-0, it still wouldn't have been good enough and wouldn't have told the story of the match because Dungannon played well and deserved something.

"We played like a shadow of ourselves and I've told the players I won't stand for that – I want to be entertained by my team and I want to get some enjoyment from watching them, but that hasn't been happening and it's just not good enough.

"If certain players think they can just perform like that, maybe it's time for new players."

What had started as a day of celebration for Cliftonville ended in despair as their 135th anniversary commemorations – which included the official naming of the McAlery stand in honour of the club's founder and presentations on behalf of Fifa president Sepp Blatter and his Uefa counterpart Michel Platini – were spoiled when Swifts' persistence paid off at the death.

Suddenly the giant birthday cake which home fans were invited to avail of didn't taste so sweet – not that Swifts boss Darren Murphy was concerned.

"I don't know or care how the goal went in, I'm just pleased we've come away with something because we deserved it," he said.

"We came and had a go at Cliftonville and a lot of teams might not do that at Solitude but the way I see it is what's the point of giving players belief in themselves and encouraging them to play football, only to stick men behind the ball and try to grind things out?

"That's not our style – we'll always try to give teams problems."

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