Cliftonville boss Gerard Lyttle cheer for Reds boss as Town net precious point
Cliftonville 1-1 Warrenpoint
Cliftonville boss Gerard Lyttle was less than impressed after his side started the New Year with a whimper by slipping up against Warrenpoint Town.
After taking a first-half lead through Davy McDaid, the Reds were all huff and puff before Town - no strangers to pocketing points against the Solitude side - got their reward when Stephen Murray plundered a 67th minute leveller. And things could have got even better for the visitors as Murray went close again before Stephen Hughes cracked he crossbar with an outrageous attempt from distance.
The result means Cliftonville have picked up just two points from the last nine on offer, leaving Lyttle to reflect: "I don't know what our problem was today; we were flat, we were lethargic and it just wasn't good enough.
"I wasn't happy with the way we'd played in the first-half and, even though we were ahead, I had a wee rattle at the boys at half-time to try and liven us up but it didn't happen and, once Warrenpoint got their goal, I just thought 'here we go again'.
"Credit to them because they came here with a plan, played it well and got the least they deserved. In reality, I feel like we sneaked a draw because we were lucky not to lose it in the end."
Things might have been different had Johnny Parr not made a fine reaction stop to keep Jay Donnelly at bay on four minutes and the keeper came out on top when the duo next went head-to-head. Neither referee Tim Marshall nor his assistant giving Parr any credit for his save by failing to award the Reds a corner kick.
The deadlock was broken a minute before the break when neat feet from Donnelly bought him some space wide on the right and his low delivery was clipped home by McDaid.
The early stages of the second period were as dreary as they come but Murray sparked life into the contest when a sensational turn dragged him away from a brace of defenders and, after rounding goalkeeper Conor Devlin, the former Armagh City man rolled the ball into the net despite a seriously testing angle.
Cliftonville should have been back in front almost instantly when Martin Donnelly's quick corner caught Warrenpoint napping but, from James Knowles' delivery, Johnny Flynn was unable to steer his header on target.
The Reds felt they should have had a late penalty when Dermot McVeigh appeared to bundle McDaid over inside the area, but of greater concern was the injury which forced the striker into a post-match visit to hospital.
Warrenpoint boss Barry Gray - whose side are back in action with a Rotterdam friendly against Dutch amateurs RKSV Leonidas this evening - was upbeat as his men made it three draws from as many outings.
"It's like someone turned on a switch for a lot of our players a few weeks back," he said. "Our performances have improved and the next step is getting a win on the board.
"If we could just get a wee bit of luck with other results, we'd really have something to push on with."