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All in good time

Paddy McLaughlin admitted that the Christmas schedule doesn’t allow much time to enjoy last night’s victory over Glentoran but saluted his players for digging deep to claim all three points.

A deflected shot from Kris Lowe ultimately proved the difference in a cagey affair that neither side was ever able to take a proper grip of but, with the win banked, McLaughlin was quick to shift focus to forthcoming festive challenges – starting with next Monday’s North Belfast Derby duel against Crusaders at Seaview.

“We’re just trying to get as many points on the board as we can – League positions will chop and change throughout the season,” he said.

“It’s important we try to stay with the leading pack for as long as we can and, so far, we’ve done a brilliant job at that, the boys have been excellent.

“It was a crucial three points. We’ll take the pat on the back for it and applause for the clean sheet and a hard-earned victory but, as soon as you wake up the following morning, you’re immediately preparing for Crusaders because Tuesday’s points are banked and that’s as far as it goes.

“The boys were excellent right across the pitch. They battled their way through it, they defended really well and when the chance came, we took it. I’m delighted with the three points and the performance, delighted with the clean sheet but we have to quickly move on.”

The contest’s only goal came after a sustained period of Glens pressure gave way to the Reds imposing a greater influence on proceedings and McLaughlin revealed that ceding possession is part and parcel of games such as last night’s.

“Against good sides, you have to understand that there’ll be spells in the game where you might be doing a lot of chasing and a lot of defending,” he added.

“That was part of what we set out to do, we knew there were going to be periods where we wouldn’t have possession for a while and that proved to be the case. But, having said that, I don’t remember Nathan Gartside making any saves that you wouldn’t expect him to make because the ones that he made were routine for him.

“I thought we defended really well out of possession, the shape of our team and the work-rate was excellent. Then when we had it, we created a couple of chances of our own and I thought Jamie McDonagh and Sean Moore in both wide areas for us were very good, and Ronan Hale and Joe Gormley together linked up really well and caused trouble.

“That’s how games pan out – sometimes it can be defining moments and that’s what it was. The one clear chance that was in the game came our way so fair play to Kris Lowe – I think it’s his first goal for the Club.”

Lowe’s effort – which took a significant nick off Seanan Clucas on its way past visiting goalkeeper Aaron McCarey – came at the end of some wing wizardry from Moore, whose contribution McLaughlin gave the final word to.

“Sean’s an exciting player and he’s one we have to look after and protect,” he said.

“He’s got a lot to learn and a long way to go before he’s the finished article but, so far, I think the fans see how exciting and how good he can be and how good he is at the minute.”