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Just the job for Jim

Jim Magilton saluted the “professional job” his players performed in eliminating Portadown from the Clearer Water Irish Cup last night.

The Reds marched through to the semi-finals courtesy of a Luke Wilson own goal and late Sam Ashford clincher as the Shamrock Park side – who had already overcome Premiership opponents Crusaders, Carrick Rangers, Loughgall (twice), Glenavon and Dungannon Swifts in various competitions this term – fell to their first Cup defeat of the season.

“It’s a one-off game where you know that you have to go and present yourself against a very good and very experienced Championship side, and one who are in the League Cup Final,” explained Magilton.

“We were never going to come here and underestimate them – we did our homework, we did our jobs and we did a really professional job.

“We had to show more quality and when we did show our quality, we scored goals. We’re going to play better, there’s no question about that, but there was probably a little bit of nervous tension in terms of recent results but all week has been about reaffirming the positives – we’ve played very, very well all season, we’ve had a blip in terms of recent results but we trained really well this week, they’re a fantastic bunch to work with and it’s all about getting into the hat.”

As well as lauding the performance of Niall Currie’s hard-working side, Magilton also expressed his pleasure at seeing Ashford find the net after the striker had earlier rattled a post before heading over from point-blank range at 0-0.

“It’s nice for him because he’s worked so hard and he’s missed a great chance with the header in the box, so I was delighted for him to get on the scoresheet and really that was us through,” he added.

“Portadown were excellent, they kept going and, with the League Cup Final coming up, I’m sure Niall will be delighted with his players but tonight was about Cliftonville and us getting through to the Irish Cup semi-final.”