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McCrudden is silencing his critics with incredible scoring record, beams Cliftonville boss McLaughlin



Michael McCrudden

Michael McCrudden

Michael McCrudden

Paddy McLaughlin has encouraged Michael McCrudden to keep silencing his critics after he banked his third hat-trick of the season in Cliftonville's five-star victory over Carrick Rangers.

The former Institute striker opened the scoring with a first-time finish from Rory Hale's fifth minute cross and made it 2-0 with a purposeful run and finish soon afterwards.

After Garry Breen nodded home the Reds' third, McCrudden sealed his treble with a delightful dink over keeper Aaron Hogg before substitute on-loan Celtic midfielder Barry Coffey grabbed the goal of the day with a scorcher from distance in the second-half.

McCrudden, who joined Cliftonville from Derry City in January of last year, struggled for match fitness in his early days at Solitude but looked to be finding his feet when the season was shut down by the outbreak of Covid-19.

That put him back close to square one in terms of sharpness in front of goal and, having been in and out of the team throughout this term, has now netted nine times in his last six appearances - including two trebles this month alone.

"There were people out there foolish enough to doubt him in his first year here," said McLaughlin, who also bossed the 29-year-old at 'Stute. "They were doubting if he could do it here and doubting if he was a sensible signing - but those boys have gone quiet now and they've been quiet for a while because Michael's been flying.

"He's on fire at the minute and we're seeing the true Michael McCrudden. With the class that he has, it was only a matter of time before it started to shine through and it's shining through at the minute and long may it continue.

"I'm delighted for him personally. I said a few weeks ago that his character and personality in the dressing room was phenomenal when he wasn't playing. He never showed his frustration and disappointment, he kept getting on with it and he's the first man to fight the corner of any player when it's not going their way and, fair play to him, he's got his chance and grabbed it with both hands."

While Cliftonville had fun in the sun, grey clouds hovered over the visitors from virtually the first whistle.

"Diabolical" was one word boss Niall Currie used to describe his side's latest capitulation as he questioned some of his players' team ethic.

"When Cliftonville played a ball in behind our full-back, instead of coming across to help and support, we had centre-halves staying put in the middle and looking after their own men," he said.

"That set the tone and it kept happening. I didn't see people helping one another out and, in the first-half especially, it was embarrassing at times for us."

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