Belfast Telegraph

Reds must learn to perform for full 90 minutes: McLaughlin

Paddy McLaughlin
Paddy McLaughlin

By Billy Weir

If fans notice some odd markings on the back of Paddy McLaughlin's bonce tonight, don't panic - it will merely be the result of much head scratching.

For 45 minutes last weekend against Ballymena United they played mouth-wateringly marvellous, crisp, exciting, flowing football, with Joe Gormley and Ruaidhri Donnelly giving a masterclass on striking partnership play.

Donnelly gave Cliftonville the lead in that opening period, but after the break the Reds of the first half had disappeared without trace and only briefly re-emerged once the Sky Blues had turned the game on its head, but McLaughlin's men couldn't turn round the 2-1 deficit.

Next up is tonight's trip across town to play Glentoran, and McLaughlin will be praying that it is the good, not the bad, side who turn up, and if they need to win ugly, it'll make his day.

"There were a lot of positives but we were disappointed with the result," he said, reflecting on last week's defeat.

"The goal we scored was brilliant, all one-touch, and we know we have that in our locker, but when you play so well you have to win the game, so we feel a bit empty after playing so well in the first half and coming away with nothing.

"You've got to learn this is the Irish League you're playing in, sometimes you have to roll your sleeves up and grind it out, and I don't think we did that last week and it ended up costing us two soft goals."

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Despite that defeat, the Reds still sit in third place in the Danske Bank Premiership, but defeat to the Glens would see the sixth-placed east Belfast side leapfrog them in the table.

McLaughlin hopes that the free-flowing football will be enough to get the better of Mick McDermott's side, a man he is very familiar with.

"I know Mick well, we did our Pro Licence together and he's a fantastic coach," he added.

"You can see his work already, they are a different side this year and it's going to be another tough night.

"We still have another one or two gears in us. I think in that first half that was us probably playing at our maximum, and you could see how good that was, but to do it for 45 minutes is not enough.

"You have to do it for the whole game, week after week, because it is a relentless league. There's no fixture you look forward to because they are all tough.

"It's not enough to play for 45 minutes and then disappear for the next 45, we've got to do a lot better."

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