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Half the battle

Paddy McLaughlin believes that stripping Crusaders of the psychological advantage of a goal just before half-time was key to Cliftonville winning yesterday’s North Belfast Derby.

Trailing to Jonny Addis’ opener and a man down following Declan Caddell’s dismissal, the Crues rallied to equalise minutes ahead of the interval but their hopes of regrouping while level at the break were snuffed out when Ryan Curran stroked the Reds back in front almost immediately.

Levi Ives made sure of the points with a well-taken strike in the closing quarter but the Manager was in no doubt about the match’s integral moment.

“We’re probably disappointed with how we’ve played against Crusaders on the two previous occasions and certainly the game just after Christmas,” he explained.

“I thought we had something to correct from that day and we did it.

“Throughout the 90 minutes, I thought we were very dominant, created a number of chances through both general play and set pieces. I think we nullified Crusaders and restricted them to very little bar the free-kick that led to the goal. It was a really impressive performance.

“Our boys’ mentality is getting stronger and stronger as the season goes on. It was a battle of mentalities because if they go in at 1-1, it obviously gives them the incentive in the second-half but our boys refused to accept that and kicked on and got a brilliant second goal.

“It was quick thinking from Levi with the quick throw and Ryan Curran does what he’s done all season, his composure in the final third has been excellent. He’s scored from a really tight angle and it’s put us back in front right on the whistle. It was a massive goal and a big, big thing for the game. Some people might say the sending off was the turning point in the game but I think going in at half-time 2-1 up played a massive part in how the second-half turned out.”