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Paddy draws comfort

Paddy McLaughlin was full of praise for Cliftonville’s application across the pitch in last night’s North Belfast Derby duel with Crusaders, but admitted he and his players were disappointed to only emerge with a point for all their hard work.

After falling behind to a Jordan Forsythe free-kick, the Reds levelled courtesy of a scrambled effort from Ryan Curran, whose 71st minute penalty put the visitors in front only for Ross Clarke to equalise for the Crues with 10 minutes left to play.

Having gone agonisingly close through Ronan Hale, Ronan Doherty and Joe Gormley over the course of the evening, Cliftonville were left to reflect on what might have been, but the Manager had nothing but words of admiration for his team’s efforts.

“It was a proper derby – where have those games gone over the last couple of meetings?,” he quizzed. “In the Boxing Day game, I don’t think there was a booking, there was a hardly a tackle made but that was the complete opposite and that’s how it should be played.

“It was end to end, it was feisty at times and it was high energy and high tempo. I’m sure anybody watching will appreciate that both sides went toe to toe and gave it their all. We’re slightly disappointed because obviously we had chances to win it but Seaview’s a difficult place to come and any point is valuable.

“Outside of the two goals we conceded – which were two cracking goals – the boys defended really well. We worked tirelessly in the middle of the park and they ran themselves into the ground up top to stop attacks coming. You know how Crusaders can play, they’re very good at it, they’re strong, they’re direct and they can be a handful with a lot of aerial threat and they play to their strengths but I thought we contained that really well throughout the game, bar two fantastic goals.”

Despite his team’s obvious frustration at being unable to claim victory, McLaughlin added: “I’m full of credit for the players. We are disappointed we didn’t win the game, we are disappointed at conceding two goals but it’s a valuable point at a tough venue and we’ll move on to next week.”