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Thinking positive

Paddy McLaughlin believes Cliftonville can draw “a lot of positives” from their performance despite losing narrowly to Haugesund last night.

A 43rd minute strike from visiting skipper Christian Grindheim proved the only goal of the Europa League First Qualifying Round first leg clash, which saw the Reds go close on a number of occasions, especially during a stirring second-half display.

“I thought we were very good and I’m very proud of the players for the jobs they did,” said McLaughlin after the first home defeat of his Cliftonville tenure.

“We were well organised, well disciplined and played some really good football at times. The only thing missing from our performance was a goal but we can definitely draw a lot of positives from the night. If we keep playing like that, we’ll do OK.

“On Wednesday night, we saw how good Rosenborg were in their game against Linfield so we were a wee bit apprehensive about going up against a team from the same League, but we competed very well and, as I keep saying, you can’t fault our players for their work rate and the shift they put in.”

The visitors might have enjoyed a more comfortable night had they made their breakthrough earlier, but central to stopping them doing just that was Conor McDermott’s sensational goal-line block when Ibrahima Kone thought he had shattered the deadlock – an intervention which McLaughlin believes demonstrates the fighting spirit that permeates his squad.

“When you have nine players with their arms in the air celebrating a goal, that shows you how good a piece of defending it was,” added the boss.

“You talk about desire, passion, hunger, a will to work hard and do well for this Club – we got that from every single one of our players.

“It’s frustrating that we’ve lost the game but we have plenty to be positive about. We’re still in the tie and we’ll go to Norway next week and do our very best to turn it round.”