Cliftonville manager Eddie Patterson says his players are determined to restore some lost pride when they take to the field at Windsor Park this evening.
Still reeling from their harrowing 4-0 league defeat by Linfield, the Reds square up to the Blues once again in a bid to bring the County Antrim Shield back to Solitude for the second time in Patterson’s reign — and the boss insists his players will need little motivation other than the memory of what happened eight days ago.
“The boys were hurt by that result and they were very down when they came in for training last week,” he said.
“They were a bit apprehensive in the early stages of the Ballymena game too, but I think that was only to be expected. We had been punished for our mistakes against Linfield and the boys were wary of making sure it didn’t happen again.
“It was all about matching Ballymena for workrate and effort in the first-half and I believe we did that. At half-time, we asked then to step things up a gear and try to enjoy themselves. They did that and we had a very good final half-hour, but just couldn’t put the ball in the net.”
That has been the story of the last few weeks for the Reds. Their goalless streak now stands at 402 minutes with three scoreless draws in their last four outings and Patterson is all too aware that record must change tonight.
“We don’t want the boys to be thinking about that, we need them focussed on doing their jobs,” he says.
“There’s enough pressure going into a final against Linfield without adding to it with reminders of how long it’s been since we last scored. The goal will come because we’ve been playing quite well, we just need a little break.
“A lot of people were let down last week, but the boys owe it to themselves and their team-mates to turn it around.
“Bringing a piece of silverware home would be a great way to put last week’s result behind us.”