Belfast Telegraph

Cliftonville will continue to play without shackles, insists ambitious Gray

 

By Conor McLaughlin

Barry Gray acknowledges that Cliftonville face a stern test of their credentials this evening, but insists his men will travel to Coleraine in search of full points.

The new Reds boss began his tenure with an absorbing 6-3 defeat of Ards on Saturday, but will tonight come up against a Bannsiders outfit who continued their remarkable 2017 form with an opening day victory over Dungannon Swifts.

While he accepts that Coleraine will be a tough nut to crack - especially at The Showgrounds, where Cliftonville have traditionally struggled over the years - Gray refuses to be bogged down by statistics that pre-date his arrival at the club.

"Coleraine are a very good side, there's no getting away from that, but the way I see it is we're Cliftonville - we've got to go out and try to beat everyone," he said.

"We're a big club with a very talented squad and there's no sense in us going into any match playing for a draw or being happy with a point, I don't see that as being the Cliftonville way.

"We want to take the game to any team at any ground and that's what we'll be setting out to do against Coleraine.

"The attitude we want our players to have is that they're going to go out and win every game.

"It might not happen, but it won't be for the lack of trying - we're going into matches to win them because we're Cliftonville.

"I think we saw that against Ards on Saturday when we kept going for more and more goals.

"We carry a threat going forward and we want that to be the basis of our play. We're an attacking team and we set up to attack.

"Obviously we conceded a few goals at the weekend but we'll work on that side of our game as we go along.

"I've been pleased with everything we've done throughout pre-season and in the first league match, so we want to continue in the same direction."

The Reds ended a five-game Premiership losing streak with that thumping of Ards.

Jay Donnelly and Joe Gormley bagged doubles in an impressive showing.

While a win this evening would represent their first away victory in any competition since the week before Christmas, Gray dismisses any notion of his players being hampered by the form book.

"Those aren't my stats," he said.

"The team that played against Ards had a new goalkeeper, two new centre-halves, a new midfielder and a new forward, so you've five new players in there that had nothing to do with last season, so why keep talking about it?

"It's gone, and our focus now is on making sure we make this season the best that we possibly can."

The Reds will travel to face a Coleraine side missing the suspended Steven Douglas after his dismissal in Saturday's 3-1 win at Dungannon Swifts.

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