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Right of reply

Paddy McLaughlin has backed his players to put their midweek disappointment behind them when they travel to Portadown tomorrow – but is well aware of the threat his side will meet at Shamrock Park.

The Reds suffered the duel pain of conceding an injury-time equaliser to Linfield before losing the County Antrim Shield semi-final clash in a farcical penalty shootout but, buoyed by how his team have responded to setbacks throughout the season, McLaughlin does not anticipate any lingering consequences.

“We had chances to make it 2-0 and probably got a bit of luck with the goal Linfield had disallowed because I didn’t think it was offside, but a cross has come in from the same area and we’ve not dealt with it again and they’ve scored,” he reflected.

“That’s probably our biggest frustration – that we’ve not won the game in 90 minutes. The penalties were obviously disappointing but the boys were angry with themselves that it ever got that far. It’s gone now, though, and we have to put it behind us quickly because we’ve a lot of big games coming up very quickly.

“We’ve too much going well for us in the season so we’re not going to let it drag us down. We’ve a lot of good things happening at the Club and we’ll concentrate on what we’re doing well and we won’t be dwelling too long on what happened on Tuesday.

“If we bounce back the way we usually do, all that disappointment will be quickly forgotten about.”

McLaughlin pointed to Portadown’s home form as a key strength that Cliftonville will have to address head-on when they set off on their final away day of 2021 this weekend.

The Reds sampled an experience of that just over a month ago when they needed extra-time to secure a come-from-behind victory in a hard-fought League Cup quarter-final clash at Shamrock Park and the Manager expects another thorough examination in Mid-Ulster.

“They’re very good, especially at home,” he added.

“They’re hard working and they’ve scored against all the top sides at home this year. You’ve got to be at your strongest at the back as well as in attack because they don’t give away much either.

“Portadown have got good players that can hurt you, but we’ll dust ourselves down and get ready for another tough game.”

Portadown v Cliftonville
Adults: £12
Concession: £8

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