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Boom with a view

Paddy McLaughlin says it was a joy to watch Cliftonville click into gear against Ballymena United yesterday.

After a tricky opening spell in which the visitors defended manfully, the Reds got their breakthrough courtesy of an exquisite strike from Joe Gormley, who converted from the penalty spot to make it 2-0 before half-time.

Ronan Hale and Sean Moore each netted in the final quarter of an hour of a game that McLaughlin admitted he was able to enjoy the latter stages of.

“I thought the boys were excellent from minute one to 95,” he said.

“Early in the game, Ballymena frustrated us a bit and got bodies behind the ball quickly so it was a bit of a slow start from our boys.

“Once we clicked into gear after 10 or 15 minutes, I thought we were very, very good. We moved the ball really well and it was the same in the second-half – the first five or 10 minutes, we were slow out of the blocks and they had a couple of corners and free-kicks.

“But again, once our boys went through the gears, the last half-hour was really, really good to watch.

“It’s not too often I’d be relaxed on the line but when the third goal went in, you could see we were controlling it.”

As pleased as he was with the four goals scored, McLaughlin also took particular satisfaction from seeing Cliftonville record a first clean sheet in four Danske Bank Premiership outings.

“Defensively, I thought we were really sound,” he added.

“We’ve had a bit of criticism for conceding some soft goals in the last couple of games, but I think the defensive block today – against good players – was good, we put bodies on the line when we had to and moved the ball really quickly.

“It’s important our defenders know how good they are and don’t listen to the nonsense they’ve listened to over the last couple of games.

“It’s OK to criticise every now and again but we’re sitting in the position we’re in and people are being heavily criticised which I didn’t think was fair at all. But it’s a good response and a good way to answer that is by keeping a clean sheet against a decent side.”