Belfast Telegraph

Donnelly and Gormley ready to click up gears, warns Gray


By Alex Mills

Cliftonville boss Barry Gray believes his team's resurgent form will be scrutinised when Danske Bank Premiership table toppers Coleraine visit Solitude tomorrow.

The Reds are unbeaten in six games and, for the first time since Gray took over, are beginning to look like a team with genuine title credentials.

They swatted away the challenge of Glentoran last week without ever having to go through the gears.

It was two goals from Rory Donnelly - his first since returning to the club following a five-year stint in England - that earned the Reds all three points across town in east Belfast.

Little wonder Gray had a smug grin on his face.

With Joe Gormley also showing signs that he is rekindling the form that earned him a transfer to Peterborough United, the future suddenly looks bright on the Cliftonville Road.

Coleraine, however, will be an entirely different proposition to what the Reds have faced of late. Oran Kearney's boys are still unbeaten in the league, even though they slipped up for the first time this season in midweek against Crusaders in the Bet McLean League Cup.

"They have been the form team of the season, so this will be an acid test for us," said Gray. "Although they have picked up a few injuries it hasn't stopped them in their tracks.

"Coleraine are at the top of the table for a reason, they have been the most consistent team and they have players that can hurt you.

"I know they lost in midweek. If anything that will probably make them even more determined."

Gray, however, will focus on his own team's excellent form of late and will be determined to keep that run going.

"The boys have been working extremely hard," he said. "That has been reflected in our results. We took a lot of confidence from the win over Linfield when we scored three goals late on, but we deserved victory on that occasion.

"It was good we kicked on from that. We are not becoming carried away by any stretch of the imagination. We still have a long road up ahead, but the boys are beginning to take the things we work at in training out onto the pitch and that's pleasing."

Gray is also excited about the prospect of the Donnelly/Gormley partnership beginning to flourish.

"Both lads have worked hard on their game," he added. "They both have similar background in terms of returning to the club.

"Joe's problems were well documented in terms of injury. But both have only one goal now, and that's getting this club back to where it belongs."

• AHEAD of the Solitude clash, Coleraine have announced a new signing in the form of a short-term deal for English midfielder Martin Smith.

The 21-year old joins from Scottish Premiership side Kilmarnock, where he has made 12 appearances, and will provide injury cover for Brad Lyons after he fractured both cheekbones against Linfield.

Smith will have to wait for his Bannsiders debut, however, as Coleraine are not expecting to receive clearance for him in time for tomorrow's game.

Cliftonville vs Coleraine

Danske Bank Premiership:

Solitude, Tomorrow, 3.00pm

Belfast Telegraph

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