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Paddy hails work of Gart

Paddy McLaughlin was delighted to see Nathan Gartside’s dedication rewarded in yesterday’s stirring Samuel Gelston’s Whiskey Irish Cup sixth round victory over Coleraine.

The Reds goalkeeper made three stunning saves to help earn a 3-1 success in the penalty shootout, having earlier denied Stephen O’Donnell and Matthew Shevlin during the regulation 90 minutes – interventions which kept home hopes alive prior to Jamie McDonagh’s injury-time equaliser.

It was the stop from Shevlin that drew particular praise from McLaughlin, who acknowledged that the tie was on the verge of being done and dusted at that point.

“I hope people don’t forget about that save – it’s a big, big save and the defining moment of the match,” said the Cliftonville boss.

“If they score, the game’s over but keeping it at 2-1 gives us chance to pull it out of the fire, which we did.

“Nathan then follows that up by saving three penalties. He’s getting better and better week on week, you can see he’s getting more comfortable in his surroundings and with the players in front of him.

“I’m glad to see him get his rewards for all of his hard work. He puts in some hours with our goalkeeping coach, Conleth McCrudden, he stays behind in sessions, he’s first on the pitch before sessions and he’s starting to fulfil his credentials of being a top keeper. I hope he gets a lot of praise from today and I hope he gets a lot of confidence from it because he deserves it.”

Cliftonville made a promising start and led through Rory Hale but, pegged back by Jack O’Mahony, fell behind when a goalmouth scramble ended with the ball finding the net despite Ronan Hale’s last-gasp efforts to stop it creeping over the line.

The Reds had been unable to generate any late momentum and looked set for an underwhelming Cup exit until McDonagh’s finish ultimately sent the contest to penalties, where Gartside saved three of Coleraine’s four efforts, allowing Levi Ives to step up and booked a quarter-final berth.

“It was a typical Cliftonville-Coleraine game – end to end, both sides not resting on their laurels, both sides going for the kill throughout the game and going for goals,” added McLaughlin.

“It lived up to everything we thought it would have been. It was a classic Cup game that both sets of fans got their money’s worth out of because both sides emptied the tank and gave it their best shot and, fortunately for us, we’ve come out on the right side of a penalty shootout.

“It’s not a nice way to lose a game and we know all about that ourselves, losing on penalties to Coleraine in the League Cup semi-final, but luckily it was our turn this time and luckily we had Nathan Gartside in goals.”