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Fear has taken hold of Reds, says Lyttle

By Alex Mills

Cliftonville boss Gerard Lyttle has warned his players to start manning up.

The ailing Reds are on an alarming downward spiral, which gathered momentum following a 2-0 defeat by Linfield at Windsor Park on Monday night.

Lyttle's boys haven't tasted victory since January 28 when they defeated whipping boys Portadown at Solitude. Frustrated Lyttle is demanding a response in today's clash against Dungannon Swifts at Stangmore Park.

"I struggle to see any leadership in our team," claimed Lyttle. "I've told the players they must now man up.

"They have to find a way of winning, whether it's ugly, whether it's through luck - any way at all. We need to find it soon. We can't continue to keep performing the way we have. There are too many of them (the players) playing with fear. I want bravery, I want players getting on the ball and attacking it.

"Linfield deserved to win the game the other night. We probably got away lightly because it could have been a drubbing."

Their latest result almost certainly extinguished any lingering hopes of nudging ahead of Linfield in the table - they are now a staggering 14 points adrift of David Healy's side, with only seven games remaining.

Cliftonville's only hope of claiming a ticket to European football next season will now rest with the play-offs.

To make matters worse, the Reds missed their SEVENTH penalty in eight attempts, Jay Donnelly this time the guilty culprit at Windsor Park.

"It has to be a mental issue," added Lyttle. "How do you legislate for missing a penalty? I have never heard of such a poor run of missed penalties. Most of those spot-kicks have come at crucial times.

"It's time for everyone to stand up and be counted. It has to start at Dungannon."

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