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My Cliftonville players showed fantastic resolve to battle back and earn the three points, beams McLaughlin


Paddy McLaughlin

Paddy McLaughlin

Paddy McLaughlin

Cliftonville boss Paddy McLaughlin praised his players' character after they battled back to claim a dramatic victory over Dungannon Swifts.

The winner came from the final kick of the game, with Ryan Curran keeping his cool from the penalty spot at a freezing Stangmore Park.

It was a bitter blow for struggling Dungannon, who remain second bottom after a fourth straight defeat.

They had led at the break, only for Chris Curran to level from a corner the Swifts felt should never have been awarded.

But the Reds stepped it up as the second half unfolded, with namesake Ryan securing the three points.

McLaughlin said: "I think it was nothing more than we deserved - the whole second half was played in the Dungannon half. They were out to defend their lead, and they have every right to do so, but the response from our players, from going a goal down, was excellent - the second half especially.

"We challenged them to go and score two goals to win the game - not to settle for a draw. They had guts, character, bottle - anything you want to use, it was there in abundance in the second half."

The Reds had lost here in November and a repeat looked to be on the cards when Aaron Donnelly diverted a Mark Patton cross into his own net.

Otherwise the best chance of a competitive first half fell to Conor McMenamin. A series of one-touch passes ended with Ryan Curran playing him through, but goalkeeper Sam Johnston intercepted.

Cliftonville raised their performance in the second half, buoyed by their 49th-minute equaliser.

Donnelly's corner delivery was cleared only as far as Chris Curran and he drove home first-time.

Johnston then denied Ryan Curran at close range, reacting well to block his bullet header.

The chances continued with McMenamin shooting over from the tightest of angles, then Johnston raced off his line to thwart sub Joe Gormley.

But with seconds remaining, the Reds forced one last corner and from that the referee adjudged Caolin Coyle to have handled a shot on the line. A penalty was awarded and Ryan Curran confidently swept it home.

Dungannon boss Kris Lindsay said: "It is gutting - football can be cruel at times, and sometimes you don't get what you deserve.

"Cliftonville will think they did enough to win the game, I thought we competed extremely well for large parts of the game."

Sunday Life