Football/Soccer

Cliftonville manager Barry Gray content with positive week

JOE IN THE GOAL: Cliftonville's Joe Gormley retrieves the ball after the first of his two goals in Saturday's 2-1 win against Carrick Rangers Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
By Padraig Kelly

CLIFTONVILLE manager Barry Gray wants to bottle Saturday’s second-half performance against Carrick Rangers and bring into the rest of the side’s games this season.

After 45 minutes things did not look good for the Reds at the Belfast Loughshore Arena. They trailed by a goal away from home and more dropped points on the road looked likely.

However, the introduction of Joe Gormley, who struck twice, and a noticeable increase in their work-rate, saw the Solitude side secure their first away win this season – something that pleased their manager.

“I think everyone was just delighted,” said Gray.

“It’s a tough place to go to no matter what is happening in the league.

“The pressure was there so it’s good to get the win under the belt.

“Going one down early in the game and having to come from behind is always a difficult thing to do.

“At the time it was a negative but looking back now it turned into a very good positive for us.”

Before the match, assistant manager Harry Fay had spoken of the importance of last Tuesday’s 6-0 County Antrim Shield win over Knockbreda.

Likewise, Gray said that it was a great way to boost confidence for Saturday as it came on the back of just one league win in six matches.

“That’s two wins for us in a week following Tuesday night’s game,” said Gray,

“We’re just hoping that some of the things we have been working on are starting to seep in a bit.

“We knew that results would eventually follow and hopefully this is the start of it.

“At half-time that maybe didn’t look like it would happen because our basics weren’t particularly good.

“We didn’t work hard enough; we didn’t work hard enough for the second ball.

“In the second half there was a complete contradiction to that.

“In away games like that we have to match them in work-rate and then rely on our extra quality to get us over the line, and that’s what happened.

“I would like to say it was something massively tactical, but it wasn’t, it was the basics of hard work and desire – that wee bit of want and belief.”

A home match against Linfield on Saturday is next on the agenda for Gray’s troops, but he doesn’t think that form will play too much of a role in that particular fixture.

“The reality is that we go out every week with one aim and that is to win every game, although it hasn’t worked out like that so far,” he said.

“This last week has given us a taste of what can be achieved if we stick together.

“Games like Linfield look after themselves though.

“If Cliftonville players can’t motivate themselves to play Linfield at home then there’s something seriously wrong.”

Elsewhere on Saturday, Coleraine saw their 100 percent record go but they still remain top of the table after a scoreless draw with Glentoran at The Oval.

Oran Kearney’s side dug in after Josh Carson’s 20th-minute dismissal, but they still needed fortune to shine on them in a dramatic finish.

The home side were awarded a penalty after David Ogilby was adjudged to have fouled Curtis Allen in injury time, but John McGuigan lost his footing as he took the kick and sliced the ball over the bar.

For the second time in a week, Crusaders were held at home as Dungannon Swifts left Seaview with a point after a 1-1 draw.

Stephen Baxter’s side, who drew a blank with Ards last week, went ahead through Jordan Owens but Chris Hegarty drew the Swifts level with a header two minutes later.

That result allowed Glenavon to move above them into third in the table with a Mark Sykes double and a Johnny Taylor own goal helping Gary Hamilton’s side to a 3-0 win over Ards at Mourneview Park.

Ballymena United earned a 3-1 away win against Ballinamallard United in Saturday’s other game.

Leroy Millar, Tony Kane (penalty) and Cathair Friel put them 3-0 up before Josh McIlwaine grabbed one back for the hosts.

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