Paddy McLaughlin was left to reflect on a double dose of familiar frustration following Cliftonville’s 1-1 draw with Portadown yesterday.
In addition to the concession of another late goal – which proved costly against Crusaders and Glentoran in recent weeks – the Reds also saw strong penalty appeals waved away, which in itself has been a recurring theme in 2021 and McLaughlin rued the fact his men weren’t able to build on Rory Hale’s well-taken opener.
“We’d numerous chances and we’d a stonewall penalty turned down,” he said.
“I think it was clear handball and you’re hoping the referee sees that. That might have been 2-0 and you hope that would be game over, but it didn’t go our way and when you miss other chances to extend your lead, it leaves you open and it only takes one set-piece to punish you and that’s what happened.”
Although the equaliser from Adam McCallum – whose handling offence had caused the penalty controversy – came with just a minute to play, both Cliftonville and the Ports could still have gone on to take full points, with Chris Curran and Daire O’Connor threatening for the Reds either side of home substitute Stephen Murray being thwarted by an excellent challenge from Ryan O’Reilly.
“Both sides forgot about defending in injury time,” admitted McLaughlin.
“I know we certainly did because we were exposed in the last couple of minutes. I think we should have won the match but, again, we could have lost it late on because we went a bit gung-ho, that just comes from frustration after conceding so late on.”