Belfast Telegraph

Pressure off Warrenpoint Town ahead of Cliftonville clash, says Gray

By Keith Bailie

Warrenpoint Town boss Barry Gray believes his team are under no pressure as they prepare to travel to Solitude to face champions Cliftonville on Saturday.

Town claimed their first win in senior football on Friday night when they beat fellow Premiership new boys Ards 2-1 thanks to late goals from Daniel Hughes and Ruairi Devlin.

But they will face a Reds side brimming with confidence after putting Linfield to the sword at Windsor Park.

Joe Gormley and Diarmuid O'Carroll both netted twice in a 4-2 triumph.

Gray, though, feels his men are ready for the challenge after securing their debut win in senior football.

"The pressure is always on to get the first points on the board, whether that be a draw or a win," he said.

"Now we've got that win, it takes a wee bit of pressure off us."

Town knocked the Reds out of the Irish Cup on penalties in 2011 after a dramatic penalty shoot-out, when they were a Championship Two side.

Gray said:"You don't want to be going to places like Solitude still looking for you first win, so the Ards victory has really taken the pressure off.

"We're no strangers of going to Cliftonville and giving it a go, and that won't change for next week.

"We can now go to Belfast knowing that we're already off the mark. If we still had zero points then we'd be under pressure, but thankfully that weight has been lifted from our shoulders. It's a big game for our club and we want to be able to enjoy it. Hopefully, we can go there and express ourselves."

Warrenpoint's victory over Ards will be remembered as the County Down club's first ever top flight win, but Daniel Hughes' 74th minute strike will also live long in the memory.

The ball dropped for Hughes, with his back to goal, some 25 yards out but the former Newry City man spun on the ball and riffled it high into Graeme McKibbin's net, changing the course of the game.

Understandably, manager Gray was delighted with Hughes' incredible strike.

"I said to my assistant that we needed somebody to come up with something special," he said.

"We needed a spark and Daniel Hughes provided that.

"It was an incredible finish, that any of the established forwards in the Premiership would have been proud of."

Belfast Telegraph

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