Belfast Telegraph

Reds won't get carried away by hot streak, says Lyttle

By Conor McLaughlin

Gerard Lyttle expects a revitalised Portadown to pitch up at Solitude tomorrow but has backed his own players to continue their fine run of form.

Cliftonville enter the game seeking their fifth consecutive Danske Bank Premiership success and, perhaps most astonishingly, a TWELFTH win in a row against the Ports, who haven't scored a single goal against the north Belfast side during that sequence.

With new manager Niall Currie taking charge of the visitors for the first time, Lyttle (right) - who is today named the NI Football Writers' Manager of the Month for November - knows his men can't afford to take anything for granted.

"It's such a boring and predictable thing to say but there really are no easy games in this league," he stressed.

"There's usually an upset every week and being high up in the table won't save you from losing to a team near the bottom, you see it all the time.

"We would have been preparing for a tough game against Portadown regardless of who their manager was, but I'm sure Niall Currie's arrival will have an impact on them and he'll have them well pumped up for the game.

"We've played Ards twice already this season and Niall had his team well drilled, motivated and organised so I'm expecting more of the same.

"I think he'll do well with Portadown, but fingers crossed his good run doesn't start at Solitude."

The Reds' recent burst of form has lifted them to within touching distance of Crusaders at the top of the standings and opened up a little cushion of breathing space over the chasing pack, culminating in Lyttle getting to grips with his first managerial gong.

Determined to beat the infamous Manager of the Month curse, Cliftonville's boss has challenged his players to maintain their upward trajectory and puts their current momentum down to a change in mindset within the Solitude dressing room.

"We had some off-field problems earlier in the season but things have settled down now and I think we're starting to see more of what we're truly about," he explained.

"Everyone's pulling in the same direction and, to be honest, that wasn't the case a while back. Issues needed to be addressed and I think that had an effect on our performances and results.

"Myself, the coaches, the backroom team and the players have all worked hard on different aspects and we're starting to see the benefits of that.

"The intensity of our training sessions are scary at times and we've actually had to step in and rein the boys back. They're taking that approach with them into matches and you've seen from the amount of late goals we've got that there's a great spirit and never-say-die attitude in there.

"We're in a good place but you can't get too far ahead of yourself. Your next match is always a tough one, so there's no time to relax.

"We have a good record against Portadown and I'm sure Niall will be determined to change that at the first time of asking."

Fixtures Tomorrow (3pm): Ards v Linfield, Ballinamallard United v Crusaders, Cliftonville v Portadown, Dungannon Swifts v Carrick Rangers, Glenavon v Coleraine, Glentoran v Ballymena United.

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