Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Ronan ready to face Reds' tough challenge

Cliftonville defender Ronan Scannell admits emulating last season's achievements is a big ask for the men from north-Belfast.

The raiding left-back, however, insists he and his team mates will revel in giving it their best shot.

The Reds followed up last Monday night's 2-2 draw at home to Linfield in the Sky Sports opener by going to Shamrock Park on Saturday and coming away with an impressive 2-0 victory over Portadown to maintain their unbeaten start to the domestic season - with eight wins out of ten matches.

And Scannell believes there is more to come from the Solitude side.

"We've started well and are playing some good football," he said.

"The boss was quoted a few weeks back as saying he didn't feel as though we'd really clicked, but we've improved a hell of a lot since then, beating Linfield at Windsor, drawing with them at Solitude and then going to Portadown and winning this weekend.

"It shows how far we've come in the last year or two that we approach fixtures such as the one away to Linfield and the on at Shamrock Park confident of winning.

"Cliftonville teams of the past might have settled for a draw or heroic defeat, but we went there knowing we're a match for any team in the league and confident in our chances of getting all three points."

A 38th minute opener from Mark Holland was followed up by Chris Scannell's 68th minute strike and Ronan - the striker's younger brother - believes their partnership is a key reason for the Reds fine start to the campaign.

"Chris and Mark have really hit it off this year," he said.

"Mark had been more used to playing on the wing in the last couple of seasons, but he's been moved up front alongside Chris and the pair of them have been on the same wavelength in every game.

"We've also had plenty of goals from midfield and that's not something we've experienced much of in the past.

"Kieran O'Connor has come into the team and he's done very well.

"He's our joint-top scorer so far and it's great to have a threat like that coming from all over the park.

" We said we wanted to emulate last season and that'll be tough because we finished third and reached two Cup finals, but that's a challenge to be met and we'll certainly give it our all.

"We tired in the last few weeks of last year, but the manager has added some new faces to the panel this year and now has a bigger pool to choose from.

"He's done his bit and now it's down to the players to show what we can do."