Deflated Eddie to ring the changes
Published 07/04/2008 | 08:30
Cliftonville boss Eddie Patterson has vowed to ring the changes at Solitude after watching his side stretch their winless streak to five games.
And although it is still mathematically possible for the Reds to take the Championship, the Solitude boss officially declared the end of their title challenge after a disappointing draw with Glenavon on Saturday.
The Reds battled from 3-1 down to snatch a point, George McMullan nodding home in the fourth minute of injury-time, to deny the Lurgan Blues a famous win.
There were no celebrations after yet another stirring fightback, however, as Patterson admitted the Reds were no longer in the race for the Gibson Cup, with Glentoran and Linfield left to fight it out for the prize.
"We set out at the start of the season to try and emulate or better what we did last year and now that we don't have the title to play for, we'll have to aim for the runners-up spot," he said.
"Even that isn't in our hands at the minute and we need to win our three remaining league games and hope Glentoran slip up somewhere."
With the Glens facing Linfield before hosting the Reds on Friday week and then finishing at home to Portadown there is still a chance that second best can be achieved by Patterson's men.
To do that, however, they will have to be stronger at the back than recently.
"I'm sick and tired of conceding silly goals and that is what has cost us again here," said Patterson.
"We haven't been scoring enough lately, but we've got three goals here and it still wasn't enough to win.
"Players aren't following instructions, either because they can't or they won't.
"Either way, that tells me that we need to make changes and I've identified a few faces that I'd like to bring on board, which will mean a number of the current squad going the other way.
"That's what has to be done if we're to make progress at this club.
"I don't know if it's a case of mental fatigue because we've been playing for two years non-stop, but it's something that's been going on for far too long and has to be put right.
"We need to move on and make progress, which means bringing in new players and trying to improve on what we already have at the club.
"We still have second place and a Setanta Cup spot to play for this season but as far as next year is concerned I've already started work."
Glenavon manager Terry Cochrane must have been left scratching his head at the end, wondering how his team can be so poor one week and then come within a whisker of nailing one of the title contenders.
"I think the performance was very, very good," said Cochrane.
"We kept Cliftonville on the back foot. They're not a bad side and they will come at you and create problems but we created all sorts of problems for them.
"Obviously we're gutted with the result even though we'd probably have taken a point before the match, but after playing so well it is gutting."