Football/Soccer

Cliftonville manager Gerard Lyttle is happy after Reds defeat Portadown

 Cliftonville captain Jason McGuinness celebrates his goal with teammate Jay Donnelly 
Sean O'Neill

CLIFTONVILLE boss Gerard Lyttle has described his side’s second half display on Saturday as “devastating.”

The Reds moved up to fourth in the table following their 3-0 win away to Portadown, with all three goals coming after the interval.

The home side had started the game well and, on another day, would have gone in at half-time with a lead.

As it was, the teams turned around all square.

Jason McGuinness grabbed Cliftonville’s first on 58 minutes –firing home when Portadown had not dealt with a James Knowles corner.

Substitute Davy McDaid made it 2-0 with a tap-in after good work from Jude Winchester with 15 to go and, in injury-time, Stephen Garrett scored a belter into the top corner.

Although acknowledging that the mid-Ulster men did create opportunities in that opening period, Lyttle insisted that they were merely half-chances.

“The chances that they had – they weren’t clear-cut,” said Lyttle.

“I think Breen had a decent chance and big Jason Mooney pulled off a decent save. That’s what he’s there for, so we’ll look at that during the week and run our eye over it and see how it happened.

“But overall when we look at the positives – second half we were devastating. Some of the play 
was excellent and some of the passing and movement from players too. We seem to be hitting a bit of form.

“Jude Winchester was good, the two full-backs were good, [James] Knowlesy was fantastic in the role that we’ve asked him to do. 

He knows it’s for the benefit of the team.

“We’re playing with him sitting in front of the back four. He’s starting up our play and he’s very disciplined in his defensive duties too, so it’s working well for us at the minute and long may it continue.”

So far, Cliftonville’s season, in the league at any rate, has been a stop-start affair. Luck has not been on their side in certain games, while in other games, they have just been poor.

As far as Lyttle is concerned, turning it around – as they seem to be doing – is a matter of keeping cool heads and working hard.

“We didn’t have the best of luck in terms of goals we were conceding, and we adjusted a few things,” he said as the Reds moved into fourth place on Saturday.

“Myself, the back room staff and the board haven’t panicked too much. It’s just back to the nitty gritty, working hard and back to basics. And now it’s just getting that wee bit of momentum going for us.”

That momentum will be severely examined next Saturday, when Cliftonville meet north Belfast rivals Crusaders at Seaview. A win there would be a huge morale boost.

“We’re playing against the champions. It’ll be a big test for us to see really where we are,” he said.

“We relish it and we look forward to it. It’s a big derby and it’s a game that I would imagine our players will really be up for. They’re a good team - there’s no denying that. 

“I’m not going to sit here and talk nonsense and try and bluff that. They’re a good team and we will looking to try and get where they are.”

Football/Soccer

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