Paddy McLaughlin admits that Cliftonville were frustrated on a number of fronts against Glenavon yesterday but credited his players for not letting any exasperation stop them from battling until the end, when Ryan Curran swept home an eye-catching equaliser.
Either side of falling behind to a Danny Purkis penalty, the Reds saw a number of spot-kick appeals waved away by referee Tim Marshall, who also saw fit to take no action when visiting goalkeeper Craig Hyland wiped Ronan Doherty out in a race for the ball.
Just as galling for the Manager was the double substitution that was enforced on him at half-time, with injuries to Garry Breen and Chris Curran necessitating not only a change in personnel but also a switch of shape which took his patched-up side a little time to find their feet in.
“You’re starting to get control of the game going into half-time and trying to build some momentum but the injuries meant we had to take out two of our senior players and change the formation, which was disappointing, but these things happen in football and you have to try to deal with them,” said McLaughlin, who extended his January Transfer Window acquisitions to six with yesterday’s loan signing of Barry Coffey from Celtic and a swoop for Linfield’s Daniel Kearns.
“Unfortunately, on top of the normal injuries that any team will pick up over the course of a season, we’re picking up a lot of very serious ones. Levi Ives, long term injury; Seanna Foster, long term injury; Donal Rocks, Calvin McCurry, Joe Gormley – it’s a crazy run and now we’ve had to make two substitutions when Chris and Garry came off.
“It’s an horrendous run of injuries, most of them serious and long term, so it was important we got bodies in and the additions we’ve brought in over the course of the Transfer Window have been brilliant signings for us.”
On the game itself, he added: “The expectation and the hope was that we would have carried our form on from Tuesday night’s win against Linfield and, while it’s disappointing that didn’t happen, when you look at some of the big decisions in the game that didn’t go our way, plus the injuries and he upheaval, it could have ended up being one of those days where we come away with nothing but the boys dug in, kept fighting until the end and got themselves a point, so I can’t be too down on them when you look at the 90 minutes overall.”
Cliftonville were also furious to have an 82nd minute Conor McMenamin goal chalked off when a linesman ruled that Ryan Curran was in an offside position as the ball found the net – with McLaughlin declaring his sincere hope that the official made the right call.
“Thomas Maguire has driven to the byline and pulled it across, McMenamin’s produced a good finish but the linesman’s saying that there was an obstruction on the keeper,” he explained.
“I didn’t see it myself, to be honest, I’d need to watch it back but I hope he got it right. I’d hate to think we’ve lost a perfectly good goal but if he’s got it right then fair play to him. If he’s got it wrong, it’s a big disappointment for us.”
A rueful grin creeps across his face when he recalls the incident that saw Doherty flattened by Glenavon’s debutant custodian.
“Sometimes when your keeper comes rushing out of the box, you’re a wee bit fearful that he gets everything right but I don’t think there’s anybody in the ground or on the pitch who thought the keeper got that right!” he insisted.
“He’s absolutely clattered Ronan Doherty and we were just waiting for the red card to be flashed. Not only does the referee not flash the red card, he didn’t even blow for a foul.
“I know the Irish League is known for being a bit rough and tumble but when challenges like that are deemed to be fair, it leaves you asking a lot of questions.”