Paddy McLaughlin’s disappointment with Cliftonville’s defeat at Ballymena United yesterday was compounded by the fact he had warned his players to expect a second-half onslaught from the hosts.
The Reds were unfortunate to only lead by a single Ruaidhri Donnelly goal at the interval but failed to hit their stride thereafter, producing a performance that fell well below the standards set during a dominant opening 45 minutes.
United levelled through Andy McGrory before Conor McDermott’s own goal settled the issue, despite Cliftonville threatening via Jamie Harney, Joe Gormley, Conor McMenamin and McDermott as the clock ticked down.
“I thought we were sensational in the first-half,” says McLaughlin.
“A lot of our play was fantastic. We kept the ball really well and every time we broke, we almost scored. We looked as good as we’ve been in a long time.
“You’ve got to score when you’re on top and we’ve had a few crosses put across the six-yard line crying out to be rolled into the net. If we score any of them, it’s 2-0 and we’re in even greater control but at 1-0, the game’s still alive.
“At half-time we spoke about complacency and how Ballymena were going to come at us.
“That’s where the disappointment comes from – we knew it was coming but we didn’t deal with it. That’s something we have to work on because we’ve gone from being so good in the first-half to not coming out for the second-half until we were 2-1 down.”