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Cliftonville boss Gerard Lyttle mystified by rash of red cards in drab draw

Cliftonville's Jamie McGovern is sent-off during Saturday's Danske Bank Premiership game against Coleraine at Solitude Picture by Pacemaker
Pádraig Ó Meiscill

CLIFTONVILLE manager Gerard Lyttle was left scratching his head at some of the decisions made during Saturday’s goalless draw with Coleraine at Solitude.

The Reds had defensive pair Paul Finnegan and Jamie McGovern sent-off on Saturday, while Coleraine’s Adam Mullan also received his marching orders in what was otherwise a relatively incident free game.

“I think there were some harsh decisions,” said the Cliftonville boss.

“Paul Finnegan was booked in the first-half for shirt pulling and that’s fair enough, but the second one [yellow card for a tackle in the second-half] he keeps his eyes on the ball, he’s not been rash or reckless, but the Coleraine player is just too quick and takes it round him. The referee could’ve used his common sense and took it into consideration that Finnegan was already on a yellow card.”

And Lyttle wasn’t looking at the refereeing decisions completely through Cliftonville coloured glasses as he also queried the dismissal of Coleraine’s Adam Mullan, also on a second yellow.

“Fair enough, it’s a hand ball, but it’s clearly not intentional and I don’t think it was deserving of a red card,” he said.

But it was the third sending-off of the afternoon that really mystified the Reds boss: “I really don’t know why Jamie McGovern was sent-off.

“If he did anything wrong, it was to look round twice when the ball was going out, but I’d have to watch it again to get my head round what the offence was.

“After the first sending-off we began to get on top and, whenever Coleraine went down to 10 men as well, I thought we could go on and take all three points. But then McGovern getting sent-off, going down to nine men, we just had to see the game out and take the draw.”

While Lyttle was frustrated with the lack of a cutting edge to Cliftonville’s performance on Saturday and admitted they were carrying “three or four passengers” on the day, he said a lot was down to the injuries and suspensions they have suffered from in recent weeks.

“That was the poorest we’ve played in a while in terms of possession, attacking and fluidity,” he said.

“We were looking goals today and what we got was defensive solidity and when we’re looking solidity we get the goals, but that’s just the way it goes. It was important we put in a solid performance and we’ve done that.

“We’re missing an entire midfield at the minute and now two centre-halves as well. We’ve been chopping and changing and with the absence of Jason McGuinness, Ryan Catney and James Knowles, the balance hasn’t been there. Now we’re going to have to make do without Paul Finnegan and Jamie McGovern as well.”

But with the Reds still four points clear of Coleraine in third place after Saturday’s draw, Lyttle was remaining upbeat.

“It’s far from doom and gloom, despite the all negativity that’s around at the minute,” he added.

“You have to remember Coleraine are the form team in the league and they’re chasing European football just like us, but we’re doing alright ourselves.

“Despite the injuries and suspensions, we’ll keep patching things up, but we need the fans to get behind us. Our aim is European football and, if we get there, it’ll have been a successful season.”


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