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We lacked spark: Magilton

Jim Magilton admits Cliftonville produced a “substandard” display in last night’s County Antrim Shield exit at the hands of Carrick Rangers.

As is customary in the opening round of the competition, the Manager made a number of changes to his line-up, handing debuts to goalkeeper David Odumosu and defender Luke Kenny, while fellow new recruit Conor Pepper made his first start in a team that also saw Chris Curran and Stephen McGuinness in the XI for the first time this season.

Ahead through a magnificent strike from Ben Wilson, the Reds found themselves behind at the interval but levelled through an own goal only to concede for a third time and, though disappointed to lose the game, Magilton’s main source of frustration was the overall display.

“It’s the first time that’s crept in in terms of performance levels,” he explained.

“We were so substandard. Once we started brightly and scored early, I think because we’d played them recently and won quite easily, we took it for granted. In this game, if you don’t do the basics well, it comes back to bite you and you have to hand total respect to Carrick Rangers – they put us under pressure, though we played into their hands because we conceded too many set pieces.

“I just felt that we were totally off the pace after a bright start and that’s really disappointing. There’s the old saying about earning the right to play and they did that better than us and they deserved to win.

“We lacked spark, even after a bright start. I’ve been there, so I can talk to the players about this – I’ve been in game where you think you’re just going to turn up, play and win, and you can’t do that. If you take this game for granted, it bites you and it’s bitten us tonight.

“What I don’t want to see is that temperament of handing cheap goals away. Other than their first one, their goals were cheap and we can’t have that.”

Magilton added: “I take full responsibility for selecting the side based on giving some lads minutes. They’re all good players, we’re not dismissing that and we’re not taking that away from anybody, but what’s disappointing is that we didn’t go on and win after a bright start and, actually, we were fortunate at times not to concede more.”