Belfast Telegraph

It's time to play for shirt again says Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin

By Conor McLaughlin

Cliftonville 2 Dungannon Swifts 2: Tommy Breslin has called on his players to make it impossible for him to leave them on the sidelines.

The Cliftonville boss admits he could easily have made more than the three permitted substitutions as his champions stumbled to a draw against Dungannon Swifts.

Though a much-changed line up suffered County Antrim Shield defeat to Linfield last Tuesday, Breslin was encouraged by his side's display at Windsor Park and rewarded some of his better performers with a place in the team for Saturday's return to Danske Bank Premiership duty.

Even so, it proved yet another frustrating afternoon as the Reds bagged an injury-time leveller to pocket just their seventh point from six outings as the chasm between themselves and league leaders Linfield was further extended.

"The only time we showed any kind of urgency was just after Dungannon went 2-1 up," said Breslin.

"But we should have been playing like that at 0-0, at 1-0 and at 1-1. It's taking our opponents to do something before we're shaken into life and we know it needs addressing.

"Without making excuses, we've had disruption with injuries and suspension but when players have been given a chance, can any of them honestly say they're grabbing hold of the jersey and making sure they keep it for the next match? I'm not seeing that.

"I still maintain we're only fine margins off where we want to be. It's just a case of getting that final pass right or taking that extra – or one less – touch where it's needed.

"You can see the effort's there and we're trying to do the right things but they aren't coming off."

Ahead through Liam Boyce's delightful finish, Cliftonville were pegged back by Swifts' namesake Darren before Chris Lavery put the visitors within touching distance of a first Solitude success in seven years.

Gormley's last-gasp intervention denied them, but boss Darren Murphy – whose team hadn't picked up a single Premiership point since their last meeting with the Reds – was proud of their application.

"I feel sorry for my players and for myself because we don't know how we've not won that," he said.

"To come to Solitude and get a draw, you would nearly always see it as a point gained but, given how we've played, the chances we've created and the manner in which we've conceded so late on, it really feels like two dropped."

CLIFTONVILLE: Devlin, McGovern, R Scannell, McMullan, O'Carroll, Smyth, Catney, Gormley, Murray, Doherty, Boyce. Subs: Johnston, Caldwell (for Doherty, 72 mins), Garrett, Donnelly (for O'Carroll, 65 mins), Curran (for Murray, 54 mins).

DUNGANNON: Morgan, McMinn, McCaffrey, Grieve, Fitzpatrick, Harpur, Hutchinson, Costello, C Lavery, Hazley, Boyce. Subs: Doyle (for Costello, 71 mins), Brennan, Lowe, Douglas (for Hazley, 44 mins), McCullough.

Referee: Raymond Crangle (Belfast)

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