Cliftonville will use their squad to the max to keep winning run going - Paddy McLaughlin
Danske Bank Premiership: Carrick Rangers 0 Cliftonville 1
WITH Cliftonville making it three wins in the space of a week at Taylor’s Avenue on Saturday, manager Paddy McLaughlin is banking on his squad maintaining the momentum as a packed schedule shows no sign of letting up.
Ryan Curran got the only goal against Carrick Rangers, who finished the game with 10 men after Kurtis Forsythe was shown a red card for a foul on Paul O'Neill. The Reds could have won by more, with them passing up a series of gilt-edged chances, but another assured defensive display ensured they moved into fourth place in the table, just a point behind Larne.
With Ballymena next up tomorrow night, McLaughlin is adamant he has the squad available to keep the winning run going: “The full squad is going to play a big part over the next period, not just at Cliftonville, but you’ll start seeing at other clubs too,” he said.
“Playing two games a week is hard for a full-time outfit, never mind a part-time team like ourselves. Since the turn of the year we basically haven’t been training together because when you have a schedule like this, your free time is for recovery.
“We’ve a big test ahead now with Ballymena on Tuesday and then Linfield at the weekend and there will be a fair bit of rotation. But the players will step up to the plate. The squad we have is more than capable of holding its own.
“The squad we have is not the biggest but it’s full of talent. What we have now are squad players who are capable of coming into the first team and staying there by virtue of their performances.”
Saturday’s win over Carrick, who are in a three-way battle to avoid the league’s wooden spoon along with Dungannon Swifts and Portadown, was also the third time in a week the Reds had won by the bare minimum, conceding only the one goal in the process. McLaughlin puts this down as a collective effort from front to back in his side.
“Our ’keeper and back four have been getting a bit of praise for keeping it tight the last while, whereas before they were getting a bit of stick for the opposite reason,” the Derry man added.
“But in the same way as we attack as a team, we defend as a team. Declan O’Hara works hard with the back four and they deserve credit, they withstood everything that Carrick threw at them and the two centre-halves carried on where they left off on Tuesday night.
“It was important we kept a clean sheet, although we should have added to the goal we scored. With a wee bit more quality and by being a wee bit more clinical in the final third, we could have made it a much more comfortable day than it was.”
Linfield tightened their grip on top spot on Friday night with a 2-1 win over Larne while, on Saturday, Glenavon consigned Crusaders to their latest defeat at Seaview. Coleraine moved into second place with a 2-1 win over Warrenpoint, while there were also wins for Ballymena and Glentoran.