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Cliftonville's failure to finish job is unacceptable: Lyttle

Ards 2-2 Cliftonville

By Keith Bailie

Cliftonville manager Gerard Lyttle branded Saturday's display against Ards as unacceptable.

The Reds are hoping to mount a title challenge this season, but were only able to draw 2-2 with Danske Bank Premiership new boys Ards at the Bangor Fuels Arena, despite leading twice.

Lyttle said: "I'm frustrated as we didn't find the level of performance we produced this summer. We looked lethargic and were unable to control the game.

"To have the lead twice and not win is unacceptable.

"The good thing is that we now have competition within the squad, so I have options. The worrying thing is that Ards worked harder than we did and I can't accept that."

Cliftonville took the lead in the 28th minute thanks to Levi Ives' first goal for the club. Fellow left-back Michael Ruddy equalised for Ards from the penalty spot in the 35th minute, after Caoimhin Bonner handled a Craig McMillen cross.

Jay Donnelly gave the Reds the lead just after the break with a divine lob, only for Ards to claim a share of the points thanks to an incredible solo goal from debutant Joe McKinney in the 82nd minute.

Lyttle questioned his players' attitude. He said: "We spoke about having the right attitude, but I'm not sure our attitude was right. We didn't play our normal game. Ards won the first and second ball. It wasn't good enough. But it was the first game of the season. We're not going to get carried away."

Ards boss Niall Currie was delighted with his team's display. Currie took a risk in the summer, releasing many of the players that claimed promotion, but even with nine signings making their competitive debuts, Currie's men looked well organised.

"We showed great character to come back on two occasions. That pleased me more than anything," he said. "My aim was to bring characters in and I think we've managed that. We worked incredibly hard out of possession and we never said die. That's exactly what I want in my team."

ARDS: Hogg; Brennan, Friars, Taylor, Ruddy; McMillen, Cherry, McKinney, McCullough (Arthurs 52), McAllister (Hughes 82); Keke. Subs Not Used: Hall, McMullan, Rea

CLIFTONVILLE: Mooney; Cosgrove, Bonner, McGuinness, Ives; Curran (D. Murray 75), Knowles (Winchester 62), Catney, M. Donnelly; J. Donnelly, McDaid (Hughes 82). Subs Not Used: McGovern, Ramsey.

Referee: Keith Kennedy (Lisburn).

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