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Kick up the behind

Paddy McLaughlin joked that he has no issue with Cliftonville falling behind in games if it provokes the kind of response his players delivered against Coleraine yesterday.

After going 1-0 down to an early Jamie McGonigle strike, the Reds levelled through Rory Donnelly only for James McLaughlin to quickly restore the Bannsiders’ advantage.

Ryan Curran made it 2-2 and Jamie Harney’s header on the stroke of half-time put Cliftonville in front before Curran’s late penalty completed the scoring.

McLaughlin admits the manner in which the Reds twice found themselves behind was disappointing but was keen to accentuate the positives of how the team reacted to those setbacks.

“You want to be tight defensively and keep clean sheets but that’s not going to happen every week, so it’s important you respond in the right manner and we’ve done that in the last two matches,” he says. “If that’s how the players are going to react then I don’t really mind falling behind!

“I spoke last week about the character the players showed to come back and win against Glentoran and now they’ve done it again against Coleraine and shown how hard they’re prepared to work and fight their way back into games.

“We conceded twice in the first-half and we’re not happy with how those goals came about but we got ourselves back into the match each time and then our goal right on half-time probably swung the game because it changes both managers’ team-talks.

“To tell the truth, I’m not really sure how we were in front at half-time and the boys got a kick up the backside in the changing room. Coleraine put us under a lot of pressure in the second-half but we ground it out and it was nice to get the fourth goal late on just to make sure.

“I think we deserved to win it because, even though we were under pressure, I thought we dealt with it very well and our game management was good.”

With a place in the European Play-Offs long since assured, McLaughlin says Cliftonville are effectively playing for home advantage when the Semi Final comes around.

“We’re trying to win games and take momentum and confidence with us into the Play-Offs,” he adds.

“The higher up the League we finish, the better chance we have of getting a home game. We have a good record at Solitude and, though any match in the Play-Off would obviously be a very tough test, you want to take any advantage you can get.”