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Portadown will fancy their chances after our recent run of defeats, says Paddy McLaughlin



Paddy McLaughlin

Paddy McLaughlin

�INPHO/Declan Roghan

Paddy McLaughlin

Paddy McLaughlin says he expects Cliftonville's recent results to fire Portadown's belief levels ahead of this afternoon's encounter at Solitude.

The Reds approach the contest on the back of three successive defeats, with a midweek 4-0 hammering by Ballymena United still fresh in their minds, but McLaughlin insists that he and his coaching staff will do everything they possibly can to lift players' spirits again.

"We definitely didn't see what happened on Tuesday coming," he admits.

"I know the result against Larne on Saturday was tough to take in the way we lost it so late on, but the work-rate and intensity of our play was excellent. That was the positive we took away from it and, going into Tuesday night's game, we thought if we did something similar and created more in the final third, we'd have a big chance of coming away with a win.

"None of it happened, though. Everything we wanted to bring into the game was missing.

"Confidence is down at the minute and the heads have probably gone down a wee bit, too, and it's my job to get them back and get the heads up and looking forward to playing football."

As well as striving to benefit from any lingering doubts in the home camp today, Portadown will also be out to bring an end to an extraordinary run that has seen Cliftonville win every one of the sides' last 12 meetings without conceding a goal.

The Ports last found the net against the Reds in January 2014 but it's his side's recent form that McLaughlin believes could inspire the visitors.

"They'll see the results for the last while that have gone against us and they'll probably fancy getting a result themselves," he adds.

"We have to be wary of that. They've got a young squad and they try to play good football. We've got to be prepared for another tough game and almost get back to basics ourselves. If the team is working hard off the ball and working hard on it, then we'll be more creative in the final third.

"Whether it's an arm around the shoulder or a kick in the backside, whatever we feel is necessary for an individual - if it helps them get their head up, we'll do it.

"It's times like this you need to stick together as a group. We're getting a lot of criticism and rightly so but hopefully we can turn things around - starting against Portadown."

Belfast Telegraph

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