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Michael McCrudden will keep getting better at Cliftonville, says skipper

Glentoran 0 Cliftonville 2

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Smile high: Ryan Curran celebrates his goal with Michael McCrudden

Smile high: Ryan Curran celebrates his goal with Michael McCrudden

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Smile high: Ryan Curran celebrates his goal with Michael McCrudden

Ryan Curran believes Cliftonville boss Paddy McLaughlin pulled off a masterstroke by luring Michael McCrudden to Solitude.

The 28-year-old arrived from Derry City in the January transfer window and is now showing the form that justified McLaughlin's decision to splash the cash.

Although he didn't get on the score sheet in Saturday's victory over Glentoran at The Oval, McCrudden turned in a classy display and produced a piece of brilliance to set up Chris Curran for the Reds' opener just after the break.

Namesake Ryan then sealed the deal on 65 minutes when he cheekily flipped the ball over the head of defender Paddy McClean before hammering a low shot past Elliott Morris.

The former Ballinamalllard United man believes Reds fans will see the best of McCrudden over the latter stages of the season.

"Mickey is getting better with every game - he is a quality player," said Curran.

"When he arrived, he had a few fitness issues after signing from Derry.

"He was thrown in at the deep end against Carrick Rangers, the he played in the Shield final against Ballymena United. He would probably admit himself he wasn't really fit because he only trained a few times with Derry City and didn't do any pre-season stuff.

"The quality is there to be seen. The more games he plays, the better he is getting.

"He gets into good areas and it's only a matter of time before he goes on a run of goals. When Mickey arrived at first, we probably were playing guys out of position.

"We were looking for the right shape, but we fell into a system which suits us better."

Both the Glens and Reds are due to meet in an Irish Cup semi-final next month, but Curran insists this result will have no bearing on that game.

"It may have been a dress rehearsal for the cup game, but it didn't reach any great heights," he added.

"We drew our last few league games, so it was good to get three points.

"It was a big result for us because it's always a difficult place to visit.

"We scored two well-worked goals which was pleasing. When we get into good areas, it's all about taking care and making the right decisions - and we did that."

Glentoran boss Mick McDermott admitted his boys may be well off the pace in the title race, but they will still have a big say in where the Gibson Cup ends up.

"With seven games to go, we've still to play Linfield twice," he explained.

"In one weekend in this league, you can go from third place to sixth.

"We'll certainly have a big part to play over the remaining series of games, that's for sure."

GLENTORAN: Morris, Kane, Peers (O'Connor, 87 mins), Gallagher, McDaid (Mitchell, 79 mins), McClean, Nasseri, Van Overbeek (Maatulevicius, 68 mins), Marron, Donnelly, Clucas. Unused subs: Pepper, O'Neill, Antolovic, Cowan.

CLIFTONVILLE: Brush, McDermott, Breen (Foster, 60 mins), C Curran, R Curran, McCrudden (Rocks, 87 mins), Bagnall, Doherty, Gormley (Casey, 90 mins), McMenamin, Donnelly. Unused subs: Dunne, Wilson, Maguire, McCurry.

Referee: Shane Andrews (Ballygowan)

Man of the match: Michael McCrudden

Match rating: 5/10

Belfast Telegraph