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Calling all the shots: Cliftonville - the ones to beat

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If Ronnie McFall's side have any title aspirations they must start overcoming their closest rivals

If Ronnie McFall's side have any title aspirations they must start overcoming their closest rivals

©Russell Pritchard / Presseye

If Ronnie McFall's side have any title aspirations they must start overcoming their closest rivals

It's a phrase we are getting very familiar with now in the Danske Bank Premiership... it's getting tight at the top.

Ballymena United are down in sixth position but only three points off the summit. Like a horse race there's not a lot separating the rivals in the early stages but one competitor has the class to hit the front and stay there.

Cliftonville demonstrated again on Saturday that they are the ones to hunt down, while Portadown blew a golden chance to show their title mettle.

If Ronnie McFall's side have any title aspirations they must start overcoming their closest rivals. Linfield failed miserably to take points off the Reds last season and it destroyed their title challenge.

The Ports have now lost twice to the champions and their strikers failed to penetrate a formidable Cliftonville defence.

I'm reminded of the old saying that defences win championships.

The ability of Tommy Breslin's players is obvious but their impressive work-rate floors the opposition. There are no Kevin Pietersens in their dressing room!

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Goal scorers dominate the headlines but Ryan Catney is a perfect example of a player doing the unglamorous work in the engine room.

Davy McDaid's goal will lift his confidence and Jude Winchester is now really starting to shine after having to wait for his opportunity to blossom in the team.

No more talk of the Reds failing to win at home in the league and the side they conquered last week, Crusaders, responded emphatically with an impressive win at Glentoran.

Of course the Crues have been in the number one spot before and faded away but this time they have more experience in their squad and Diarmuid O'Carroll has given them more punch up front.

That's nine goals this season for the former Cliftonville ace and he knows how to win titles.

With Linfield returning to action tonight the challenge has been thrown down to the rest of the league... if you want to win this thing you are going to have to finish above Cliftonville.


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