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Half measures

Barry Gray says Cliftonville must perform for more than 45 minutes of matches if they’re going to meet his targets for progress this season.

The Reds fell to a 2-1 defeat in yesterday’s North Belfast Derby, with the damage done in a disastrous opening that saw Crusaders take advantage of two defensive calamities to assume full control of proceedings long before the hosts gained any sort of foothold – and Gray admitted he’s been far from satisfied with his team’s start to their Danske Bank Premiership campaign.

“We are now four games in and, to date, there have been very few individual performances that have impressed me at all,” he said.

“Dishing out five-out-of-10 performances won’t be enough for me and, on that note, I would outline that if there was interest from other Clubs in any current Cliftonville player, I would be open for discussion as it’s obvious that there may be the need for a further shake-up before the Window closes.”

On yesterday’s loss, he added: “We essentially wasted the first 45 minutes of the game. Everything we’d worked on and prepared for, plus everything we did in the second-half, was ruined by what we did inside eight minutes at the start and it took us the rest of the first-half to settle down.

“We were much better after the break but, as I said to the players, isn’t it easy to play like that when you’re 2-0 down with nothing to lose? There was no big change of instruction at half-time or anything – the way we played in the second-half was how we’d also set up at the start. We wanted to go out and have a real go but, unfortunately, we gave ourselves a mountain to climb right at the beginning.

“Our supporters were fantastic but the players need to realise they have to give the fans something to support. You saw in the second-half how the fans got behind the team because they were reacting to seeing us having a go. We have something special here at Solitude and, if we tap into it, we can really make it work for us but it’s down to the team to make sure our supporters are seeing what they want to see.”