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Gray’s positive thinking

Barry Gray has backed his players to react positively to yesterday’s unfortunate defeat to Coleraine.

Cliftonville’s six-match winning streak was ended as the Bannsiders claimed a narrow 2-1 success at Solitude, where the Reds were arguably the better side but simply couldn’t make the most of the chances they created.

Gray was naturally disappointed with the outcome and with some aspects of his side’s display but believes his squad have what it takes to bounce back.

“Frustrating is the word for it,” he said.

“We’ve gifted them their two goals and I think any team would be delighted to be handed chances on a plate like that. Their first one was a silly free-kick to give away and the second, we just don’t defend it properly at all.

“In general, I think we’ve been on top and we’ve created a whole pile of chances to equalise but if you don’t put them away, you’re going to lose – it’s as simple as that.

“The most frustrating thing for me as a Manager is we’ve worked so hard over the last lot of weeks where we’ve shown the players a picture of how we want things done, they’ve gone out and done it, got the results and can see that the picture works for us. Against Coleraine, we’ve retreated away from that at times and got drawn into the sort of game we don’t want to play.

“It’s not about attitude or anything like that and I know the players will have done things with the best of intentions, but if I saw one more long ball lumped forward for Rory Donnelly to flick on, I think I’d have taken everyone off. Tell me when we’ve ever worked on that in training because I must have been off that night. That’s when it comes down to personal responsibility and players making decisions that, in truth, a Manager doesn’t have any control over.

“We’ve done okay at times in the game and, yeah, we’re unlucky to lose but the fact of the matter is that we have lost and we need to get back to doing what we know works for us. The players have seen it, they’ve applied it and they’ve got the results from it, so it’s now a case of going back and getting that right again.”

While the loss – which came courtesy of David Ogilby and Joe McCready strikes either side of Donnelly’s leveller – ended the Reds’ recent run of victories, Gray doesn’t believe his squad will be shaken by the setback.

“The Cliftonville of the first six weeks of the season is gone and won’t be coming back,” he added.

“Even if you take the two defeats to Coleraine as examples, our performance this weekend compared to the one in August was night and day. We fully deserved to lose that one, whereas we could count ourselves more unfortunate here and, even when we were winning games, I always said we were a work in progress. That hasn’t changed and we know we’ll hit bumps like this along the way but, in general, I think anyone can see we’re heading the right way.”