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United in title role: McLaughlin

Paddy McLaughlin says Cliftonville are under no illusions about the size of the task that awaits them against “title contenders” Ballymena United this evening.

The Reds travel to The Showgrounds for the rearranged Danske Bank Premiership clash on the back of two encouraging wins since the Manager took charge and, while anticipating a typically examining night, McLaughlin says he and his players are looking forward to the test.

“It’s going to be tough,” he admits. “Ballymena are one of the best sides in the division and they’re running Linfield close for the title.

“David Jeffrey has done a brilliant job. He has attracted some of the best players in the division over the course of the summer and assembled a potential title-winning side.

“It will be a tough night for us but if we play the way we did against Warrenpoint and stay as organised as we were, then we’ve every chance.”

McLaughlin has been encouraged by performances as much as results during his brief tenure to date and believes a positive atmosphere helps coaches and players alike relish their next challenge.

“Momentum is there,” he explains. “It’s the same in games and a run of matches. When you build up momentum, you can’t wait to play and approach your next game.

“We have prepared for what, no doubt about it, will be a tough night at Ballymena. They are title contenders and they’re one of the best sides in the division. We’ll concentrate on what we have available, what we can do and play to our strengths – we’ll play to whatever Ballymena have to throw at us.”