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Fought for the day

Paddy McLaughlin bemoaned Cliftonville’s failure to go down fighting in yesterday’s defeat to Ballymena United.

Trailing by a single goal at the interval, the Reds shipped two quickfire strikes at the beginning of the second-half and, though Ronan Hale’s eye-catching finish generated a slight shift in momentum, the hosts added a fourth to ensure a comfortable finale from their perspective.

“It was a bad day for us – a bad performance and a bad result,” reflected McLaughlin.

“The goals we gave away were so soft, they were criminal but, throughout the 90 minutes, I think we lost the physical battle right across the pitch.

“You don’t like to get beat against anybody but you certainly don’t want to get beat by a team that’s got more fight, spirit and desire to win. If you’re out-played and out-thought, that’s fair enough because it takes a lot to do that but when you’re out-muscled and out-fought, that’s when it gets disappointing.

“The one thing I keep emphasising of our players is that they’re built on hard work and honesty. Whenever we do that and work our socks off and show that desire, the result more times than enough goes in our favour, so we’ve got to remember what we’re built on and I don’t think we showed enough of that.”

There was additional frustration that every time Cliftonville appeared to be getting on top of proceedings, the Sky Blues duly extinguished any threat to their lead by adding to their tally, with McLaughlin – who confirmed that goalkeeper Nathan Gartside was nursing an injury following a painful collision in the second-half – left to rue how the afternoon panned out.

“There’s no good time to concede a goal but one right before half-time and two in quick succession in the early stages of the second-half, it’s poor game management from us,” he said. “We do have a lot of young players but you have to learn things quickly.

“It’s a heavy scoreline and a heavy defeat and you can’t take anything away from Ballymena, I thought they fully deserved their win but I felt we were the makers of our own downfall throughout the game.”