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Physical education

Paddy McLaughlin saluted Cliftonville’s stomach for a battle after yesterday’s late show against Coleraine.

Both sides played their part in an often bruising encounter that was settled by Conor McMenamin’s 83rd minute header, which earned the Reds their first win in four Danske Bank Premiership outings – much to the Manager’s delight.

“We knew it was going to be tough and that we’d have to stand up to what Coleraine would throw at us,” said McLaughlin.

“They’re a big, strong, physical team who work very hard and that was something we knew we had to match. We made a couple of changes to the way we usually play in order to combat that and, credit to the players, each and every one of them did their jobs superbly.

“Richard Brush has made a few big saves, the defence has held firm and there’s been no panicking when we were under pressure. I thought the front players worked their socks off all day for us, but it was in the midfield where we knew we’d have to stand up.

“It was disappointing that suspension ruled Liam Bagnall out because that’s exactly the sort of battle and challenge that he relishes but Chrissy Curran and Ronan Doherty were great for us in there and, after losing our last two games, it was important that we picked up the three points.”

Another player McLaughlin paid tribute to was second-half substitute Thomas Maguire, whose subsequent withdrawal was not a reflection on his performance.

“I’m sure it wasn’t very nice for him to be taken off again after coming on as a sub but he’d done his job for us,” explains the boss.

“We asked Thomas to go on and cause havoc and that’s exactly what he did and he’s played a big role in the goal.

“He changed the game for us and should be proud of his performance. It’s because of him that we had something to hold on to and defend, which is why I brought Seanna Foster on and moved Conor McDermott in as the third man in the middle – so Thomas definitely shouldn’t look at his substitution as a criticism of how he played. Far from it.”