Belfast Telegraph

Reds firepower must be dealt with: Hughes


Clear aim: Jeff Hughes knows Larne must develop a mean streak
Clear aim: Jeff Hughes knows Larne must develop a mean streak

By Ian Cahoon

Larne skipper Jeff Hughes is calling on his team-mates to return to their mean defensive ways ahead of today's trip to Cliftonville.

The Invermen suffered a shock Bet McLean League Cup exit after Tuesday's 3-1 defeat at home to Dundela.

However, prior to that they had been coming into form in the Danske Bank Premiership, which has seen them rise to fourth in the table.

That run was based on three consecutive clean sheets and former Tranmere Rovers midfielder Hughes is looking for a solid base to build on today.

With so many former Cliftonville players returning to their old stomping ground, it promises to be an intriguing tie.

"It's a game against one of the best footballing sides in the league, so hopefully it's one for the purist," he said.

"We have also been very solid in the league of late, we've had the run of clean sheets, so if we can carry that on and take our chances when they come along, we'll be sitting pretty.

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"We had a great win last Friday night (against Glenavon), so we want to carry that into this game."

While Larne are well placed in the standings, 34-year-old Hughes is experienced enough to know not to read too much into league tables in October.

With Linfield having three games in hand and a testing run of fixtures to come - including two games against Glentoran in little over three days next week - Hughes is keeping his feet on the ground.

"It's very early yet," he said.

"It'll be a big test for us in these run of games and especially over the Christmas period, with us having a reasonably small squad in comparison to the top two or three sides.

"Every game is a big game for us in the league, we're not in a position to take anyone lightly.

"It means being fully focused on who we're playing and how we want to play."

Tuesday's League Cup defeat at home to the Duns came as quite the shock, especially after having dismantled Glenavon in a 6-0 victory the weekend before.

Hughes admits it will take some soul-searching as Tiernan Lynch's men aim to put it right, starting with today's game against Paddy McLaughlin's Reds.

"From one to 16 we were off it," Hughes reflected.

"We have to look at why that is, it's happened a couple of times and something we need to put right.

"It was a very poor performance from first minute to last minute, to be honest.

"A team from the Championship that we beat four times last season came and turned us over so we really need to look into that.

"However, we'll set about putting that right and hopefully we can start to do that at Cliftonville."

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