Liam Boyce says Cliftonville’s backline are playing just as crucial a role as their goalscorers following the restoration of the Reds’ seven-point lead at the top of the table.
Boyce was on target yet again as Tommy Breslin’s side overcame Lisburn Distillery on Monday night in front of the Sky cameras but the 21-year-old insists that the clean sheet kept by goalkeeper Conor Devlin was just as satisfying as the four goals racked up at the other end of the pitch.
“That’s three games in a row without conceding now, which is a big boost for everyone,” he says.
“Earlier on in the season, Conor couldn’t keep a clean sheet because teams always seemed to manage one goal against us, sometimes in the 90th minute, so it’s good that we’ve been able to cut that out and, after three clean sheets against three good teams, hopefully we can keep the run going.”
While shut-outs at the back traditionally help ease the pressure on the frontmen, Cliftonville haven’t exactly been struggling at that end of the park either with 15 strikes to their name in those last three outings against the Whites, Ballymena United and Linfield.
This Saturday, they travel to Shamrock Park to take on a Portadown side which, though entrenched in the bottom half of the Premiership, boasts the sort of quality which Boyce acknowledges can never be underestimated.
“It will be another tough game but we’re confident against anybody and know that, so long as we play well, it gives us a chance of coming away with something,” adds the man with 17 goals to his name this term.
“Another clean sheet would be a big help but we know we’ll always score so long as the service is right.
“We have players all over the pitch who are hungry to get on the scoresheet and we’ll go down there believing we can get another win.
“We just want to keep our run going and see where that takes us, but it means everyone in every position has to play well because every match is a difficult one.”