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Drawing encouragement

Jim Magilton showered his team with praise despite Cliftonville being frustrated in their attempts to find a winner against Glentoran yesterday.

Ahead inside three minutes when Ronan Hale opened the scoring, the Reds were later forced to battle from behind and drew level when Shea Kearney registered an eye-catching strike to get the hosts back on track after some uncharacteristically slack defending had allowed the Glens to plunder two goals.

Outside of that four minute spell either side of half-time, Magilton was more than pleased with what he saw from his troops.

“Glentoran are a good team with lots of good players but I’m more pleased with our performance levels because I’m more concerned about how we play, our body language and how we approach things,” he said.

“I can’t fault the players for any of that. I just thought, on another day, we win the game.”

Though he lamented the lapses that allowed Glentoran to temporarily get on top, Magilton was thrilled to see Kearney open his goal account for the Club in response.

“For large periods of the first-half, I felt we were very much in control,” he added.

“You’re always cautious because they’ve got so many good players and we had a very scary moments but, on another day, I think we go in at half-time another goal to the good. Unfortunately, though, we switch off, they’ve capitalised on that and we’ve had to regroup at half-time, reinforced the positives and, lo and behold, we concede another poor goal.

“That asked questions of us but I thought we showed great character and great spirit. I always felt that we were eventually going to score – I didn’t think Shea was going to score, but I’m over the moon that he did because his performances have warranted a goal and I’m delighted for him and I’m delighted with him.”