Belfast Telegraph

McDaid's ready to blast Reds back into title mix

By David Mason

Striker David McDaid believes Cliftonville have a chance to blow the Danske Bank Premiership title race wide open when they host Crusaders in a Boxing Day clash at Solitude.

Gerard Lyttle's boys are currently six points adrift of the table-topping Crues, but victory in the annual festive confrontation would shoot the Reds right back into contention.

"This result won't decide the title race, but it's a massive incentive for us to win and put pressure on Crusaders and Linfield just above us," declared McDaid.

"Psychologically we don't want the gap to increase to nine points, because the way Crusaders are playing, even when they're under performing, they're getting late winners.

"It would be a big ask for them to drop nine points. At the same time, football is a funny game and if you drop a couple of points, things can change very quickly.

"We've been trying to cut the gap on the top of the table, but we gave away stupid points and dropped silly points at the start of the season.

"Even against Crusaders at Seaview when we were 3-0 up and lost that game 4-3 - it went horribly wrong that day, so we have been trying to claw back points.

"It's not easy because they are a very good side and it's hard to reel them in. If we want to catch them or go second in the table, we have to beat the likes of Crusaders and Linfield who are above us."

McDaid stresses it's important the Reds keep their little run going, having tasted defeat only only once in their last 12 outings.

He added: "We've been playing really well and, when we haven't performed well, we have also been grinding out results which is important.

"Our defence has been really good. At the start of the year, we were very leaky as a team, but at the minute we're looking rock solid.

"In recent years, Cliftonville have been known for scoring goals and outscoring other teams.

"It maybe wasn't known as much for grinding out results.

"I think this season we have been very solid as a team, from front to back, goalkeeper to striker, and that's an important aspect of us doing a lot better."

• Crusaders have signed Rodney Brown from Coleraine on a three and a half year contract.

The 21-year-old spent a season and a half with the Bannsiders, having previously played for Linfield.

"I have watched his progression now for several years and I think he is a superb left back," said Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter.

"He will bring another great attitude to the team and I hope that he will be here for many years to come."

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