Paddy McLaughlin says the application and quality that Cliftonville displayed in Saturday’s win over Coleraine will need to be replicated in abundance when they face Crusaders this afternoon.
The Reds travel to Seaview for the annual St Stephen’s Day Derby on the back of a hard-fought defeat of the Bannsiders which the boss believes can stand his men in good stead for the task that awaits them today.
“Saturday was a battle – it was tough, it was physical and big demands were made of us and that’s exactly what the derby’s going to be like, too,” he says.
“Crusaders are a top side, they play to their strengths and it’s been very, very effective for them over the years, but we need to go there and stand up to it and work every bit as hard as we did against Coleraine.”
McLaughlin also hopes that the weekend’s display will end accusations that Cliftonville are incapable of beating teams above them in the Danske Bank Premiership standings and points out that his side could count themselves unfortunate for coming away with nothing from previous encounters against the League’s leading sides.
“Any games we’ve lost we could easily have won them, so I think anybody who was criticising the boys was a wee bit unfair,” he adds.
“We’ve beat Glentoran, we’ve beat Coleraine, we’ve beat Ballymena. They’re all good sides, all sides challenging at the top end of the table. We were unlucky against Crusaders, we were unlucky against Linfield, we’ve beat Larne. I don’t know where the criticism’s coming from, but hopefully beating Coleraine will put it to bed.”
Though he has experienced the North Belfast Derby before, today’s clash will be McLaughlin’s first taste of the fixture’s festive instalment and he admits he’s looking forward to the occasion.
“It’s a big game that everybody wants to win and I’m sure our fans will be out in force,” he says.
“Hopefully they’re noisy and I’m sure they’ll be passionate in getting behind the players because we know how much these games mean to them and everyone associated with the Club.”
Supporters are reminded that this is an all-ticket fixture, with sales conducted online only. There will be no cash turnstiles at Seaview.