Paddy McLaughlin was encouraged by Cliftonville’s determination to find a way to win yesterday’s “battle” with Carrick Rangers.
Despite carving out the overwhelming majority of the scoring chances at the Loughshore Hotel Arena – where Levi Ives controversially saw a strike ruled out for offside – the Reds where largely frustrated by their dogged hosts.
The breakthrough came on the hour when captain Chris Curran put the finishing touch on a clinical breakaway move involving Joe Gormley, Ronan Doherty and Ryan Curran.
“It was a long time coming,” says McLaughlin.
“Although the pitch is in great shape, it was the only bit of football we managed to play on it all afternoon.
“It was also our first clean sheet of the season, so we’ve ticked the boxes – three points and a clean sheet.
“It’s a difficult venue and teams will struggle down there because Carrick are a hard-working side and, as the season goes on, they’ll be difficult to beat on their home pitch.
“They frustrated us for most of the game, so it’s nice to win ugly. You can’t win every game with flair and style, it was more of a battle than a football game.
“We played below the standard we know we are capable of and still got the victory, so that will do for me.
“I think we all would have liked a better performance and more goals, but I’ll settle for the three points. There will be games we’ll play better and lose.”