Belfast Telegraph

Reds didn't deliver but big calls aren't going our way: McLaughlin

Not again: Paddy McLaughlin has been left frustrated
Not again: Paddy McLaughlin has been left frustrated

By Steven Beacom

Cliftonville manager Paddy McLaughlin believes by the law of averages his team are in for 'a windfall of penalties' over the remainder of the season.

McLaughlin was careful not to criticise referee Raymond Crangle, who waved away spot-kick appeals from Cliftonville in a frantic finish during Monday's 2-1 league defeat at home to Linfield, but it was evident the decisions were a matter of frustration for the Reds boss, who felt handball should have been given against Matthew Clarke.

What also frustrated McLaughlin was that, on the night, his team did not deliver like they can, with the Blues dominating for a long spell after the break. The home side's pressure in the dying moments was too little, too late.

The result ended Cliftonville's impressive winning run and left them behind Linfield and Glentoran on goal difference at the top of the table.

"At the start of the season if you had said we would be joint top with Linfield and Glentoran in mid-January, a lot of people would have thought you were mad and overachieving and way ahead of schedule," stated McLaughlin, whose side have lost four times out of five to the Blues in all competitions this season.

"I'm disappointed with the result against Linfield and the performance, but we are still up there amongst the leading pack and that is not to be underestimated."

On the penalty decisions that didn't go Cliftonville's way, McLaughlin said: "You just have to trust the referee and linesmen to do their job to a high level. If the referee doesn't see it as a penalty, you have to trust his call.

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"I think the replays showed it was a penalty and it was handball. That's a few times we've played Linfield this season and been turned down for penalties.

"They say these things even themselves out. Hopefully they do because then we are in for a windfall of penalties between now and the end of the season as we have been turned down for three or four strong appeals."

Ahead of Saturday's trip to Carrick Rangers, McLaughlin will monitor Monday's goalscorer Joe Gormley after he came off with a hamstring issue, noting no risks will be taken.

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