Football/Soccer

Cliftonville boss Barry Gray eyes Swift return to winning ways after three-game losing streak

Cliftonville boss Barry Gray insists all is not lost in the aftermath of their three-game losing streak, which they hope to end at home to Dungannon Swifts today. Picture by Pacemaker
Neil Loughran

Danske Bank Premiership: Cliftonville v Dungannon Swifts (today, 3pm, Solitude)

CLIFTONVILLE will bid to get their season back on track at home to Dungannon Swifts today after a three-game losing run that stunned the Solitude side.

Defeats to high-flying Ballymena United, Dungannon Swifts in the League Cup and table-topping Linfield in the space of eight days have been tough to take for Red followers – especially last week's 4-2 reversal against David Healy's Blues.

Gray admits it was “embarrassing” to concede four goals at their Belfast rivals, and hopes that result will shock his players into action.

“They were performances we found very displeasing – and I mean we as in me and the players,” said Gray, who declined to comment on the ongoing situation surrounding Jay Donnelly.

“Before that we were in a wee patch where it was decent; I'm not saying it was perfect but we had a wee bit of momentum built and then such is football, you suffer three defeats in eight days and it knocks the socks off you.

“Windsor is a difficult place to go to at any stage, you roll into that game and you think we'll stand up to be counted – but we don't, we find ourselves 2-0 down after a very short period of time and you're thinking ‘flipping hell, this is a disaster'.

“What makes it worse is you go and score two goals at Windsor, which on any other occasion should guarantee you coming away with something, but to concede four is nothing short of embarrassing.

“Now it's about trying to regroup and refocus on the next game. At the end of the day we all have a job to do tomorrow which is to try and deliver three points.”

Cliftonville fans voiced their frustration at the end of that defeat to Linfield seven days ago, and Gray admits he can understand why they would be unhappy with recent performances.

He added: “If I was sitting in the stands watching it I don't think I would be any different than what I have listened to in the past week or two.

“Everybody's entitled to their opinion, they pay their money at the gate and they're entitled to voice their frustrations. We have to use that as a motivation and a factor for us wanting to go and deliver something.

“Our supporters will be frustrated because they know, and I know, we can do more with the players we have, but we haven't done it enough this year.”

The Reds currently sit 11 points off league leaders Linfield, with a game in hand, and Gray insists all is not lost as they head towards the crucial festive period.

“The games from here on in until the Christmas period are massive for us, absolutely massive. We've had a disastrous week, but we're still not out of it by any stretch.

“Let's face it, we are definitely not the only team that has been and hot and cold so far this season. Everybody has been taking points off everybody, that's not making excuses for us, but the league is set that way at the minute.”

INSET

STRIKER Jay Donnelly will play no part for Cliftonville as they bid to get back to winning ways against Dungannon Swifts today.

Uncertainty still surrounds the 23-year-old's long-term future at the north Belfast club after he was convicted of distributing an indecent image of a child earlier this week.

The Reds issued a statement yesterday revealing that Donnelly wouldn't play against the Swifts as they continue to seek a resolution to the matter.

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