I had faith my players could follow plans: McLaughlin
Cliftonville 1 Newry City 0
The opening goal of the Paddy McLaughlin era gave Cliftonville fans a taste of what they hope the future holds - and the boss was delighted with how his players applied themselves in a much-changed set-up against Newry City.
McLaughlin won plaudits for the slick football his Institute side played in his year-and-a-half in charge of the Drumahoe outfit and, though he reasoned that patience would be required to get all his ideas across to his new players, it took just four minutes of Saturday's encounter for Conor McMenamin to cap a smart passing sequence with the game's only goal.
Given their familiarity with the manager's methods, it was no surprise to see midfielders Aaron Harkin and Niall Grace - who both won the Championship with McLaughlin's Institute last season - handed debuts, however it was the collective team effort that won the Solitude chief's praise.
"We did a lot of work in training this week and credit to the players for how they've gone out and played," said McLaughlin.
"We made decisions in terms of formation and selection and we had faith that people could go out and do the jobs that were asked of them.
"I knew the three in midfield would give us real quality going forward and everyone saw how lively they were in there. The wing-backs did their jobs too - including one of them scoring a good goal - and the two up front worked very hard for us.
"It was a good start and something for us to build on and try to get more ideas across."
Opposite number Darren Mullen reflected: "Our reaction to falling behind was good, but we just weren't able to do enough in front of goal. It feels like I'm saying the same things every week, but I also make sure the players know to keep doing what they're doing because I'm confident we can get enough points on the board that way."
CLIFTONVILLE: Brush, Breen, Grace, Harney, C Curran, R Donnelly, A Harkin (Catney, 80 mins), McConnell (R Curran, 74 mins), Gormley (McGovern, 88 mins), McMenamin, Gorman. Unused subs: Neeson, Garrett, Lavery, A Donnelly.
NEWRY: Maguire, Mooney, King, Noonan (Durnin, 72 mins), Boyle, Carville, McCabe, S Hughes (Cavalcante, 84 mins), Teggart, Pender (Moody, 72 mins), Healy. Unused subs: Hunter, Walker, Lavery, Mullen.
Referee: Keith Kennedy (Lisburn)
Man of the match: Conor McMenamin
Match rating: 6/10