Belfast Telegraph

Gray heartened by Reds' spirited response

Cliftonville 0 Coleraine 0

By Conor McLaughlin

Barry Gray says Cliftonville's performance in Saturday's scoreless draw with Coleraine vindicated the pop he had at them last week.

The Reds boss was infuriated by his team's below-par displays in defeats to Linfield and Crusaders and made his anger clear by firing a post-match rocket in their direction following their Boxing Day no-show at Seaview.

Their response was to dominate proceedings against Premiership leaders Coleraine, who were lucky to escape north Belfast with a point after finding themselves under the cosh for long stretches.

"I made my feelings very clear about how we'd played against Linfield and Crusaders last week, so we needed to see a reaction to that and I think we got probably our best 90-minute performance of the whole season," said Gray.

"We were solid at the back, hard-working in midfield and lively up front. All that was missing was a goal.

"We had the chances, we just couldn't put one of them away, so there's frustration again but a different kind of frustration.

"I told the players from day one that they would get honesty out of me and they certainly got that this week. I mean, I could have come out and said we were unlucky against Crusaders but what benefit would that have been? How would that have helped us? It was more important to get to the truth of the matter and try to address it.

"I'm sure some players won't have liked it and, on an individual basis, won't have been happy to hear what was said, but whether or not there was anyone who thought I was harsh or whatever, their response was to give a very good team performance against Coleraine.

"I don't think our supporters will be celebrating a draw by any means but, in terms of how we've played, I think we've given them something to latch on to.

"We've given them something that they didn't get in our last two games and you could see how much they got behind the team and the reception at the end."

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