Belfast Telegraph

Reds can't allow complacency to creep in, warns boss McLaughlin

Cliftonville boss Paddy McLaughlin
Cliftonville boss Paddy McLaughlin

By Steven Beacom

Cliftonville boss Paddy McLaughlin is relishing the opportunity to return to the Brandywell and take on his old club Institute today.

McLaughlin made his name as a manager in the Irish League with Institute by guiding them to the top flight with an attractive, entertaining style of play.

He has brought that brand of football to Solitude having taken over from Barry Gray last season. This term, the Reds have made a strong start and moved into the semi-finals of the County Antrim Shield in midweek after a penalty shoot-out success at Linfield, and are third in the league four points behind leaders Crusaders.

Renowned for their quality in attack, McLaughlin has built a solid base at the back. Only Linfield have conceded fewer goals in the league than Cliftonville but the Solitude side have played three games more than the Blues.

Institute had a poor start to the campaign but have shown improvement since the arrival of Sean Connor, so McLaughlin won't be taking anything for granted.

"We are in a good place at the moment but we can't be complacent or it can be taken away from you," said the former Derry City ace.

"It will be nice to go back to the Brandywell and the players will enjoy playing on that pitch and in those surroundings. I like taking my team to play on a good surface because it encourages us to play the way we can and showed at Windsor Park.

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"Sean has done well since taking over at Institute. I've spoken to him a couple of times and he is a really nice man. He has good people there and good players, and they probably needed that bit of experience to guide them."

On Tuesday night at Windsor there was an element of surprise when record scorer Joe Gormley wasn't in Cliftonville's first five penalty takers. Gormley missed a spot-kick in last weekend's 1-0 win over Larne but McLaughlin explained he was in line to step up against Linfield.

"I think Joe wanted to save himself for sudden death. He wanted to score the winner," said the Reds boss with a smile.

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