Paddy McLaughlin admits that, despite being heartened by Cliftonville’s performance in yesterday’s North Belfast Derby with Crusaders, the 2-2 draw at Seaview has to be regarded as “points dropped”.
The Reds had enjoyed the better of the first-half play but nevertheless found themselves trailing to a Jordan Forsythe header before turning things round thanks to finishes from Ryan Curran and Michael McCrudden.
They had chances to extend their advantage – most notably when Rory Hale saw an effort cleared off the line – but were pegged back when Philip Lowry dragged the Crues level in the closing minutes.
“It’s definitely two points dropped,” reflected McLaughlin.
“I think the second-half performance was excellent. It was a complete turnaround. We dominated the game and chances but then conceded two soft goals from corners. We have to learn and improve on that. At 2-1, we had chances to put the game to bed.”
Another frustration for the Manager was the second-half incident that saw a mazy Daire O’Connor run through the middle unceremoniously halted when the winger was hauled down just outside the box, with the Cliftonville bench reacting in disbelief that referee Ian McNabb allowed play to continue.
“The referee, who had a decent game, failed to spot Daire O’Connor being taken out in a one-on-one,” added McLaughlin.
“The officials said they didn’t see it but I don’t know how they missed it. We are bitterly disappointed at that because they would be down to 10 men and we could have taken advantage. It’s another big call that has gone against us.
“In general play, I thought our boys were superb but the referee got a big call wrong. It’s been an ongoing issue about refereeing standards in the League and it needs to be addressed.
“We’ve had a few big calls that went against us this season. I’m not here to hammer refs but decisions cost teams points and you can’t keep ignoring mistakes that can make a huge impact on Clubs and players. It’s not good enough.”