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Magilton toasts reaction

Jim Magilton wasn’t short of positives to look for in Cliftonville’s performance against Crusaders last night.

Despite falling to their first North Belfast Derby defeat of the season, the Manager was pleased with the application and quality his players displayed at Seaview – especially in the aftermath of they heavy defeat they suffered to Larne at the weekend.

“I hate losing so I’m disappointed but we needed a reaction from Saturday and I think we got one,” he said.

“I thought we started the game really brightly, created some really good opportunities but didn’t take them. We know set pieces are one of Crusaders’ great strengths and we’ve conceded a really poor goal, but I thought we regrouped and some of our play was really good.

“We wanted to get on the front foot in the second-half – Joe scores a good goal and it’s a very open game and one we certainly felt we were very much in.

“Even in the build-up to their winning goal, we have a ball flashed across the box, we can’t put it in and they go up the field and score.

“The most important thing for us was playing with more confidence, passing the ball better and creating the opportunities we know we can. So that was a real improvement from what we saw on Saturday – it was a better performance, not a great result but now we’ve got to go again on Saturday against Glentoran. If we bring that sort of vibrancy and fluidity into our game, that’s how we want to go about things.”

Quizzed on how he weights up his team selection at this stage of the season with European football already secured an an Irish Cup Final on the horizon, Magilton – who was without a string of regular performers last night – explained: “We’re obviously down bodies but it gives the kids an opportunity to get a sniff and get a taste of the dressing room and get around us.

“We’d a few kids in the team and on the bench and we’re patching up a little bit. Obviously we’ve got to look forward to games in front of us but it was certainly an improvement and we’ll look to continue that on.

“We’ve certain players who have been playing with little niggles and injuries, and sometimes you just have to take them out to protect them. You have to keep everything in mind.”