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Time to show character: Magilton

Jim Magilton has encouraged his players to block out the inevitable negativity that will accompany last night’s defeat to Linfield and instead focus on getting back to winning ways as quickly as possible.

The Reds failed to fire on a disappointing night against a Blues side that registered three second-half goals en route to a deserved victory.

Magilton acknowledges that questions will be asked on the back of such a disappointing performance and result but insists that his players have proven what they’re made of time and again this season.

“In the next few days, there’ll be all sorts of questions and all sorts of scrutiny and all sorts of negativity – but not from me,” said Magilton following his side’s first Sports Direct Premiership loss in three months.

“At the end of the day, we lost a game of football and now we’ve got to bounce back. It’s more important to me that we front up and show the character and resilience that’s in the group.

“Let’s be very honest here – this group of players has been magnificent.

“We’ve had a setback. Linfield had a setback on Friday night and bounced back. I expect a similar response in terms of our character and resilience. We’re going to be asked questions and we have to stand up and be counted.

“There’s no reason for us to start doubting ourselves, no reason whatsoever.”

Magilton said he didn’t have a clear sight of Cliftonville’s second-half penalty appeals and was philosophical about claims for a free-kick prior to Linfield’s opener.

“In the build up to the first goal, I think there may have been a foul by Fitzpatrick on Burns but you win some, you lose some and, let’s be honest, we should have dealt with it, end of story.

“That’s a lesson that has to be learned very quickly – defend properly and then move on from that. Then they score two set pieces, which is something we’ve defended particularly well this season but tonight we didn’t.”