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Sport

D-day for Gray

Warrenpoint Town manager Barry Gray needs his side to overcome a 2-0 deficit tonight to maintain their Danske Bank Irish Premiership status.
Gareth McCullough

Warrenpoint Town manager Barry Gray says it's over to the his players to show they have what it takes to retain their Danske Bank Irish Premiership status ahead of tonight's second leg play-off clash at home to Bangor.

Gray's men face an uphill battle to overturn a 2-0 first leg deficit against their Championship 1 opponents in Milltown after a dismal performance at the Bangor Fuels Arena on Tuesday night.

A Stephen Moan own goal in the first half set the tone for a poor display and just when it looked like they would escape with only a one-goal defeat, Bangor's Paul McDowell struck what could prove to be a vital second in stoppage time.

Gray says his team need to stand up and be counted tonight as they fight for their Premiership lives.

“It's the typical play-off scenario where the team with momentum comes to the fore. We started off with in the first half with six opportunities on goal and only hit the target with one I think. At that point you think, ‘here we go',” admitted Gray.

“Full credit to Bangor. Tactically they were spot on. They had hunger, desire and ability. They were right on the money and they were the team that deserved to come away with the win they've got, if not maybe more.

“The second half was a worse performance than the first, there is no doubt about that, but they banked in and we played to their strengths. We didn't hold the ball up in the final third at all, we never passed three or four balls correctly without breaking it up and defensively we looked like a shambles at the best of times in the second half and you wonder why that is,” Gray bemoaned.

“In previous weeks and even last Saturday, we were the opposite to that and in the early stages of the first half [of the first leg] we were opposite to it. I can't tell you what goes on in the player's heads. From my perspective, we've prepared and done the best we could for the first leg coming into it but we just didn't carry it through.”

A vastly improved performance this evening isn't the only requirement for Gray's side as they attempt to secure top-level football for the third season in succession.

“How I look at it is irrelevant. How the players look at it is the priority for us,” revealed Gray, whose players made use of the artificial surface at Cliftonville's Solitude headquarters ahead of the first match.

“The club went to great resource for the first leg. We got everyone in early, had a light session, people took days off work to prepare properly for the match and it got us nothing in the end. The second leg is about coming in, scoring three goals and keeping a clean sheet. Can we do that? I think we can but I thought we could win the first match. It's over to them [the players]. That's the reality of it.”

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