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Players weathered the storm: Gray

Barry Gray was pleased with how Cliftonville dealt with the challenges they faced against Carrick Rangers yesterday.

At the end of a testing week that delivered North Belfast Derby success over Crusaders and a Tennent’s Irish Cup elimination of Linfield, the Reds came away from The Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena with full points from an unusual contest that was always likely to heavily depend upon how many goals the visitors could register with the wind at their backs in the first-half.

Joe Gormley’s strike earned a narrow interval advantage which, thanks to some resolute application right across the park, Cliftonville held on to when the elements were very much against them in the second period.

“It’s difficult enough down in Carrick at the best of times,” reflects Gray.

“It was tough to play in but we took our opportunity and managed the game out. I think you could see that some of the players were feeling leggy after the last few games in succession with little recovery time.

“We dealt with things quite well and I don’t know if we were ever under much pressure, to be honest.”

The boss was also full of praise for matchwinner Gormley, who extended his season’s tally to 26 goals with his fourth strike in a week.

“Joe Gormley scoring goals for Cliftonville is no shock – that’s what he does,” adds Gray.

“I’m delighted he’s got another one. He’s taken his fair share of critics this season, but if he was having a poor season then he wouldn’t be scoring those goals.”