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We weren’t worlds apart: Paddy

Paddy McLaughlin says that yesterday’s defeat to Linfield is “not the end of the world” from a Cliftonville perspective as he mulls over the fine margins that ultimately settled the issue at Windsor Park.

Kris Lowe’s own goal proved decisive at Windsor Park, where the Reds twice threatened through Levi Ives and saw Ronan Hale rattle the woodwork before Joe Gormley had a late, late effort ruled out for offside.

McLaughlin was encouraged by the attitude his players showed throughout the game and commended their bravery in the heat of a fierce battle.

“The first-half was there for all to see – cagey enough and both sides didn’t want to lose the game,” he said.

“We tried to encourage the players at half-time by telling them that if they want to continue to challenge at the top end, you’ve got to be brave and you’ve got to come to Windsor Park and go for goal and go for the win.

“I thought we did that in the second-half, we’ve created so many chances. Ronan’s had a good shot saved, he’s had one cannon off the post; Joe’s had one he’s hooked over and then the disallowed goal, so fair play to the players, I thought they deserved a lot of credit. They took it to Linfield in the second-half, especially when we went behind, but it was just one of those days that no matter how hard we huffed and how hard we puffed, we just couldn’t break them down.

“I’m hoping Joe’s goal was offside. I’m hoping the linesman got it right and I’m sure he did because I would hate to think we’d lost a very valuable point on a call that was fifty-fifty. That was a big defining moment right at the death and it was unfortunate it didn’t go our way.”

Another thing that didn’t go Cliftonville’s way was Lowe’s attempted intervention as Matthew Clarke powered into the box to try and get on the end of Kirk Millar’s delivery, with McLaughlin absolving his full-back of blame for the ball creeping over the line.

“He’s been one of our most consistent performers over the last two years and he put in another shift today, it’s just unfortunate he couldn’t get his body opened up enough to get the clearance away and has bundled it in,” he added.

“It’s probably the one time that Linfield got in behind us in the 90 minutes. The one bit of quality in the middle of the park to rap the pass out to Millar and you know what his deliveries are like from wide areas, they’re excellent. He puts a great ball across the six-yard line and it’s a defender’s nightmare because if you get there first, you probably bundle it in; if you don’t get there, the centre forward bundles it in.

“When we got in behind them, the frame of the goal or the goalkeeper having a brilliant performance were enough to deny us and it’s those wee moments that define things. It’s a big three points for Linfield but it’s not the end of the world for us. We’re definitely disappointed, but I felt we deserved at least a point.”