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Carr and attention

Barry Gray says that Cliftonville’s main focus in the wake of last night’s League Cup clash with Carrick Rangers is to deliver an improvement when Warrenpoint Town visit Solitude on Danske Bank Premiership duty next week.

The Reds booked a Quarter Final berth thanks to Joe Gormley’s late winner after the Gers had cancelled out the 2-0 lead generated by a Levi Ives free-kick and Gormley penalty – and, while acknowledging his side’s unconvincing display, the Manager is keen not to dwell on negativity.

“The performance was under-par,” says Gray. “I don’t need to say that and the players don’t need to listen to it – they understand it, I understand it and everyone that sat and watched the game saw it quite clearly.

“We got a win against a very dogged, well organised and high-energy Carrick side that on a normal day, when we’re at full par, shouldn’t be testing us the way they did, but credit to them for that.

“There were five changes to the starting eleven from last Friday night. We saw the impact of that and that’s no disrespect to the players that came on.

“We saw some of our more experienced players maybe not performing to what they could have, but the positives are that Bam Neeson was outstanding and kept us in it – you never want to see a keeper Man of the Match, but he was outstanding – Caoimhin McConnell was really good and Joe Gormley steps up and scores two goals in another scenario where Joe is taking pressure off our deficiencies across other areas of the pitch.

“All we can promise is that we will regroup at training on Thursday night. If we want to feel sorry for ourselves because Carrick came and run us, where will that get us? We’ve 10 days until the next game at home to Warrenpoint – a team that has already taken three points off us – and that is our focus now.”