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Reds are cautious but confident of finishing the job, says Paddy McLaughlin

 

Relishing it: Paddy McLaughlin is looking forward to Thursday
Relishing it: Paddy McLaughlin is looking forward to Thursday

By Alex Mills

Cliftonville boss Paddy McLaughlin insists caution will be the buzzword ahead of next week's Europa League second leg showdown with Barry Town United at Solitude.

The Reds had a scoreless draw in the preliminary round opener at the Cardiff International Athletics Stadium on Thursday night, which tilts the pendulum in favour of the north Belfast team for the return fixture in five days' time.

In a game of very few clear-cut chances, McLaughlin was just a little bit miffed his boys couldn't nick an away goal, which would have made it a night to remember.

Conor McMenamin, Chris Curran and Rory Donnelly produced the visitors' best moments and were unlucky not to find the net.

Overall, McLaughlin believes it was a positive result and he's confident his team can finish the job in front of their home fans, with a first-round financial bonanza against FK Haugesund of Norway awaiting the winners.

"We didn't get the away goal that we wanted which means we must be a little bit cautious next week," said McLaughlin. "It will be a tight, cagey affair, but if we can produce the same kind of performance as we did on Thursday night, I reckon we can score the goals we need.

"Although we are slightly disappointed we didn't win the opening match, we are still in a good position. I suppose Barry Town will be saying the same thing.

"However, I think it says a lot that we were disappointed with a draw and a clean sheet in a European tie away from home."

McLaughlin reckons a vocal home support will be needed to roar his team over the finish line.

"The backing of our home fans, who have been absolutely brilliant since I arrived at the club, certainly adds 10 or 20 per cent to our players," he said. "I've no doubt they will come out in big numbers to give us their backing once again.

"They travelled to Wales in big numbers and the players certainly appreciated their magnificent support over there."

McLaughlin handed two of his four summer signings a starting shirt - defender Conor McDermott and midfielder Ronan Doherty. The other two, Seanna Foster and Ronan Wilson, had to settle for a place on the bench.

"The lads did well, and I was pleased with our shape and our work rate," he added. "We played some good football, especially in the first half. The pitch dried out a little bit after the break which slowed the tempo passing game.

"But we still managed to create a few good chances. It was just a little bit disappointing we were not able to capitalise on any of them.

"We'll now go back to Solitude, hoping to finish the job."

Barry Town boss Gavin Chesterfield is already starting the mind games ahead of next week's showdown, stating: "We are disappointed we didn't win, but 0-0 is a far better result for us than it is for Cliftonville. We've always got a goal in us. We'll prepare well and try to get the result we want in Belfast."

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