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Paddy happy to keep it clean

Paddy McLaughlin is hopeful that back-to-back clean sheets will give Cliftonville a foundation to build upon for the rest of the season.

After overcoming Bangor in last week’s County Antrim Shield first round tie, the Reds began their defence of the League Cup with a 3-0 victory over Harland & Wolff Welders last night thanks to a lob from Ronan Hale and substitute Joe Gormley’s second-half brace – an outcome which ticked every box of what the Manager was looking for against caretaker boss Robert Robinson’s side.

“It was a tough enough game, Goosey Robinson’s done a brilliant job so far – he’s a few games in and he’s got a 5-0 victory (against Institute) and they ran us very close right throughout the match,” said McLaughlin.

“It was tough to break them down because they were well organised and well set-up, so we’re delighted to get the win. It was all about getting into the next round and that was the main thing – three goals and a clean sheet has us happy enough.

“We did really well last year and a lot of that was because our defence was excellent; we were strong and consistent. That’s two clean sheets in the last two games – they might have been against sides outside of the Premiership but you have to start somewhere, so hopefully that will breed confidence in our backline and our defensive unit.”

One recent addition to that defence has been Aaron Traynor who, following his Deadline Day move from Coleraine, has contributed to clean sheets in his first two appearances and McLaughlin is looking forward to overseeing the impact he can have in a Cliftonville shirt.

“Aaron’s a quality player and has been one of the best left-backs in the division for many years,” he added.

“He was just unlucky last year with an injury that he couldn’t seem to shake off. Now that he’s injury-free and edging towards full fitness, we’re delighted to have him on board because he’s going to be a serious player for us.”