Paddy McLaughlin says Cliftonville have lessons to learn from yesterday’s North Belfast Derby defeat to Crusaders but is confident his players will respond in the right manner.
Second-half goals from Jordan Owens and Paul Heatley earned all three points for the visitors, with McLaughlin left frustrated by both strikes for different reasons.
“For the first goal, I thought it was a foul on the keeper at the time and, having seen the video back, I still think it’s a foul,” he says.
“I know I would say that and I know everybody will have their opinion on it, but the striker’s put his arm across the keeper as he’s jumped for the ball. It’s Brushy I feel sorry for the most because he’s made two top-class saves before that and ended up with no reward for it.
“I’m disappointed that the referee and linesman have allowed that goal to stand and I think, for a while afterwards, we were a bit distracted and concerned with arguing with the officials. It took us a few minutes to get that out of our heads and we had plenty of the ball in attacking areas but couldn’t do enough to really work Crusaders’ defence or keeper.
“For the second goal, I don’t think Crusaders have any intention of trying to score – they’re happy to just be in possession – but the way we stood off and let them open us up isn’t acceptable. We need to learn from that.
“Playing against the breeze in the first-half, we wanted to stand up and match Crusaders to try and deal with their direct style of play and then look to play our own game with the wind behind us in the second half. We didn’t do that and that was disappointing to see.
“We have a win, a draw and a loss from our first three games so we’ve positives to take but also a few things to work on and improve.
“We have a good squad here with a lot of young players knocking on the door and I’m confident we can put this result behind us and lift ourselves up from here.”
The Reds return to Danske Bank Premiership action with what promises to be a testing encounter with Carrick Rangers at the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena next Saturday, when McLaughlin expects to welcome a number of players back into contention.
“Jamie Harney’s suspension is now clear and Conor McMenamin will hopefully be back in with us on Monday night after picking up an injury against Coleraine,” he adds.
“We’ve been managing Chris Curran’s injury game by game but, fingers crossed, he’s in the clear now. He played 10 minutes or so at Coleraine, five against Glenavon and now just over half an hour against Crusaders and doesn’t seem to have had any kind of reaction, so he’s another we’ll hope to have back in tomorrow night.”