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Paddy targets another United effort

Paddy McLaughlin says that Cliftonville may have demonstrated their quality against some of the Danske Bank Premiership’s full-time outfits in recent weeks, but more of the same will be required to get the better of Ballymena United this evening.

The Reds travel to the Braid on the back of an absorbing midweek draw with Linfield, which was preceded by a win at Larne and another high-energy display in an undeserved defeat to Glentoran, with McLaughlin keen for his men to build on those performances by beginning the weekend with three points tonight.

“The games against Glentoran, Larne and Linfield were good tests for us to see where we’re at,” he says.

“People are talking about us challenging at the top end of the division and Linfield on Tuesday was the marker of where we’re really at because when you play against the Champions, that tells you how close or how far away from them you are. I think everybody has seen that we’re not too far away from being a really good side.”

On the Reds’ propensity for frustration at The Showgrounds, McLaughlin – whose side suffered a 1-0 reverse at the venue despite an at-times dominant display back in October – adds: “For such a big Club that’s had so many talented players for a long time, for years and years we always seem to find it difficult at Ballymena. We’d like to break that.

“We’ve played really well down there a few times while I’ve been in charge, but there have been so many games where we’ve somehow failed to come away with a victory but the way the boys are playing at the minute, you’d back them and trust them to go and do the job. It’ll be tough, no doubt about it, Ballymena will be disappointed to have lost 3-0 to Carrick the other night and will want to bounce back from it.

“It should be an entertaining game but our boys, on the back of three brilliant performances, will look forward to it. They’ve rested up and recovered since the Linfield game because the last couple of weeks has taken a lot out of them but, as we saw on Tuesday, their energy levels are insane, the same as their commitment levels, and they’ll be raring to go.”

Ballymena United v Cliftonville
Friday, January 28
Tickets: Click here