Paddy McLaughlin credited his players for following up Saturday’s hard-working display at Coleraine with another immense shift against Larne last night.
Cliftonville emerged from Inver Park with a point to show for their efforts, having seen Levi Ives’ stunning free-kick cancelled out by Ronan Hale early in the second-half.
The Reds had to weather spells of good possession from the hosts but produced a stirring finish that almost saw Kris Lowe bank a late winner in front of another healthy travelling support – and the Manager was pleased that the team once again gave the fans a demonstration of their commitment throughout another keenly-contested showdown.
“It’s a really good point, the same as Saturday,” said McLaughlin.
“When you come to places like Inver, you have to work hard for everything you get and the players did that.
“You know Larne are going to have a lot of possession of the ball because they’re very good at it. If you lose your shape in any way, they can pop it round you so I thought we did really well early in the game.
“I know they had plenty of the ball but I don’t think we were under any real pressure, so to take the lead with a great free-kick – although it was probably against the run of play – gave us a lift and we probably dominated periods of the game where we didn’t think Larne would give us as much of the ball so, over the course of the game, it was a fair point.
“We were playing against a strong wind in the second-half and it picked up as the game went on. You’re a wee bit fearful when Larne had the momentum after equalising but I thought the boys stood up to the challenge really well. They defended really well, they worked their socks off right across the pitch and whenever we got control of the ball, I thought we moved it really well. We could have had a second goal ourselves through Kris Lowe at the end.
“It was hard work in tough conditions, very similar to Saturday, and we’ve passed the test physically and mentally, so we now move on to Ballymena at the weekend and we can’t wait to get back to Solitude. Hopefully the supporters are there in their numbers again because it’s another big game and we’ll need them.”