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Our title hopes may rest on festive period: Chris Curran



Busy diary: Chris Curran admits the next run of games could be crucial for Cliftonville

Busy diary: Chris Curran admits the next run of games could be crucial for Cliftonville

Busy diary: Chris Curran admits the next run of games could be crucial for Cliftonville

Skipper Chris Curran stopped short of admitting that Cliftonville are right back in the title mix - but he reckons if they are still on the tail of the leaders next month, then the dream could be on.

After being written off earlier in the campaign, Barry Gray's boys are now only seven points adrift of Danske Bank Premiership pacesetters Ballymena United.

And, with a hectic festive and New Year period looming, the north Belfast side may well be on the brink of something special.

Home form has been the key to the Reds' renaissance - they last lost under the shadow of the Waterworks way back on August 11, when Coleraine smuggled away three points.

With the Reds due to face Institute at The Brandywell tomorrow, Curran insists their credentials to muscle in on the big boys will be scrutinised at the impressive north west venue.

"Institute have been going quite well at home," said the former Ballinamallard United man. "They are quite a formidable side up there - they seem to be very comfortable at home.

"They are a force and play really good football, so we know we are in for a tough time.

"You only have to look at the goal they scored against Glentoran a few weeks back, they put so many passes together it was unreal.

"It won't be easy for us. We'll certainly be taking nothing for granted."

Paddy McLaughlin's boys, however, have a tendency to leak goals home and away, which could play right into Cliftonville's hands with men like Joe Gormley and Rory Donnelly in excellent form.

"We certainly have the boys up front to capitalise in terms of Joe and Rory," said Curran. "Rory has been on fire for the last three or four weeks. Joe does what Joe does - put the ball in the net.

"He was thrilled to end a goal drought last weekend (at Ards) because he hadn't scored for one game! That's the way he thinks. Seriously, both lads are working their socks off for us and they are causing teams problems.

"No one is becoming carried away. We've pulled ourselves onto the tails of the leaders, that's all.

"The festive period is so important. If we are still up there come January, then we'll be in a good position to judge.

"No one looks at the league table with any degree of urgency until January or February time - that's when you need to be up there along with the top teams.

"It all starts this Saturday. We need to put ourselves into a good position going into the Boxing Day game with Crusaders.

"They are all huge games. If we don't manage to get a result at Institute then we are playing catch-up and we'll put ourselves out of it a bit.

"Games against Institute are every bit as important as matches against Crusaders, Linfield or Ballymena United.

"We've already dropped points away to Newry City and Warrenpoint Town - we don't want it to happen again. We can't afford to lose if we want to be contenders. We've been strong at home, which is something we are happy about. Sometimes our away form can be a different story.

"We had a good result away at Ards last weekend, so hopefully we can build on that. We know, and it's the same for every team, if you put four or five wins together in this league, you can start climbing back up the table.

"That's all we've done. Hopefully we can keep that going on Saturday."

Belfast Telegraph