Barry Gray commended his team’s professionalism and game management as Cliftonville recorded their first ever 90-minute win at Milltown yesterday.
The Reds’ only previous away success against Warrenpoint Town came courtesy of an Extra Time triumph in a 2015 League Cup clash, but this weekend’s 3-1 victory – earned by goals from Joe Gormley and the Donnelly brothers – altered that statistic in addition to preserving Gray’s own fine record in the fixture.
“I said it wasn’t going to be one of them games that was going to be ugly and it certainly wasn’t,” he said.
“It was two teams sitting very much open in the first half. We scored, they scored – it was far too open for my liking. We dealt with that at half-time, full credit to the players for the second-half. I thought their professionalism was top notch, we always looked dangerous on the attack, we had numerous chances in and around the box in the last 20 minutes in particular and we nullified them in the second-half to practically nothing.
“Any ball they had, they had it in areas that we were comfortable with and that wasn’t by mistake. Credit to our lads, we talked about it and highlighted it at half-time and they delivered it in the second-half and I have to give huge praise for that.
“Game management – everyone heard me earlier in the season yapping about it, in terms of what we need to do in games like this. The boys know they have worked hard within the system and the shape and what they were supposed to do, that’s probably even more pleasing for them.”
The hosts came close to scoring more than once in the opening 45 minutes, particularly when Stephen Murray was thwarted by Jamie Harney’s last-gasp intervention, and Gray was pleased with how Cliftonville maintained focus at the back as well as Jude Winchester’s telling contribution to the Reds regaining their lead before the break.
“You look at the Harney interception and it’s like people saying to me your keeper made a great save, that’s what they’re there for. He had to make a great interception because he [Murray] got into space that he should never have got into on his own. The defenders are there to defend and that’s what they do, so credit for it – but not too much!
“It was a fantastic ball from Jude for the second goal, it was absolutely brilliant and that’s what he’s all about. I’m delighted he had the vision and quick thinking to give the ball and I’m delighted that Rory [Donnelly] was able to convert it. Jude was carrying a wee bit of a knock, I don’t think it is anything too serious and I doubt it will stop him dancing. He should be grand.”