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Port to play

Paddy McLaughlin says a combination of playing their own game and respecting Portadown’s strengths will be key to Cliftonville’s prospects tomorrow.

Both sides approach the Shamrock Park encounter on the back of encouraging form and, while he will be calling on his players to meet recent standards, McLaughlin is well aware that the Ports – who have won their last two games – will be just as eager to maintain momentum.

“We don’t under-estimate anybody in this League,” he says.

“It’s too tight and too tough, you see surprise results every week and that’s probably because teams under-estimate their opponents. You don’t under-estimate anybody in this division because if you don’t turn up, you’ve the potential of losing the game against anybody.

“It will be another tough game but we’re looking forward to it. The boys are in good form at the minute, they’re scoring plenty of goals and playing really good football – that’s all we’re concentrating on. If we can maintain that then we’re more than capable of beating anybody.”

While a mid-April outing would traditionally represent end-of-season fare, the late start to the 2020/21 campaign means there is still plenty of football to be played this term and McLaughlin has once again saluted his squad’s application throughout a challenging schedule.

“The players have been fantastic and last Saturday was their 19th game since the turn of year,” he explained.

“That’s almost half a season played out in just over three months. It’s incredible the intensity that our boys show, their work-rate and the organisation skills of the players on the pitch is phenomenal. Full credit to them.”