Paddy McLaughlin believes Cliftonville’s hard-fought draw at Coleraine last night offered exciting glimpses for he future.
The Reds listed six of their January signings in the starting XI – with the seventh, Eoin Teggart, emerging from the bench in the second-half – and handed debuts to Paul O’Neill, Daniel Kearns and Barry Coffey.
Transfer Window arrival Rory Hale opened the scoring with an audacious early finish after latching onto O’Neill’s header and it was O’Neill himself who earned a deserved late point when he applied the finish to Daire O’Connor’s delivery.
In between times, the Bannsiders had turned the tie on its head when first Aaron Traynor converted a rebound after Aaron McCarey had repelled Gareth McConaghie’s free-kick and then James McLaughlin found the net in the aftermath of Cliftonville conceding possession in the middle of the park.
While disappointed with the nature of the hosts’ goals, McLaughlin saw more than enough positives to draw upon at The Showgrounds.
“We’ve made two mistakes and been punished for them, so we need to cut them out of our game,” he said.
“For the first one, Aaron’s admitted he could have done better but, at the same time, we need to react to the ball. For the second one, we’ve played a pass that was just a wee bit too heavy and we couldn’t get it under control. That can happen in a game of football but it’s tough to take when it ends with the ball in your net.
“Outside of that, though, I thought we did really, really well. When you look at the run Coleraine have been on and how difficult it is to get anything at The Showgrounds, it’s not a bad point at all. We do feel we could have won it and got all three but we’ll not complain about one.
“We had a lot of new players in the squad and sometimes you never know what way that’s going to go but everybody did well – and not just the new signings, everybody.
“Paul O’Neill deserves to get the headlines because he’s got an assist and a goal on his debut and he led the line brilliantly, but you look at the performance of Rory Hale, Daniel Kearns and how good was Barry Coffey? Kris Lowe, I don’t think he knows what a bad performance is.
“But like I said, it’s not just the new signings, everybody played their part in a good performance. Teams don’t go to Coleraine and dominate the ball the way we did, especially in the second-half, so if that’s a sign of things to come then I think our fans will be very excited for the future.
“We were obviously disappointed to fall behind but, not for the first time in the last few weeks, we’ve fought and fought until the end and got our reward with the goal. We could even have got another when O’Neill hot the post, but then they went up the other end and hit the bar so I think overall it’s a good point.”