I want to score more goals: Cliftonville midfielder Ronan Doherty

Ronan Doherty (second right) grabbed the only goal of the game against Linfield on Tuesday night
Ronan Doherty (second right) grabbed the only goal of the game against Linfield on Tuesday night

Danske Bank Irish Premiership: Carrick Rangers v Cliftonville (tonight, Taylor’s Avenue, 7.45pm)

CLIFTONVILLE’S Ronan Doherty wants to chip in with a few more goals this season after breaking his duck against Linfield on Tuesday night – and has warned the high-flying Reds that this evening’s trip to Carrick Rangers could be tougher than the Blues tie.

Celebrating his 27th birthday, Doherty popped up with the winning goal against the defending champions the other night that moves the north Belfast men three clear at the top of the Premier.

“I just think if a team is going to do well at the top of the league you need your midfielders to be chipping in with goals,” said Doherty,

“Now, I’m not saying I’m going to be scoring 12 or 13 goals – I’m not as high up the pitch as other midfielders – but that was my first goal this season.

“I just want to chip in with some goals throughout the season. I still want to get assists, get higher up the pitch and score a few more.

“I’ve been chatting to Paddy [McLaughlin] and he was saying I’ve been doing well, but he wants me to score a few more goals. I knew that myself. So over the last month I’ve been putting more pressure on myself and it was good to get the goal against Linfield.”

Doherty’s well taken first-half goal was one of the few moments of quality in an untidy clash, but the Reds can take great heart from the fact they didn’t beat the Blues throughout last season.

“Linfield are the best team in the league. It’s the game you look out for when the fixtures come out because it’s probably the toughest fixture. They just know how to win.

“Over the years we’ve played far better than them but they’ve won. They were the far better team in the second half [on Tuesday night] but we did what they normally do – we just ground it out.

Central defender Jonny Addis suffered an injury in the second half against Linfield which may force McLaughlin to rejig his back-line for the tricky assignment at ninth-placed Carrick who haven’t won a league game since beating Portadown on November 19, but held Larne scoreless during the Christmas period.

“We can’t go and beat Linfield and lose to Carrick,” said the Donegal man.

“This will be a completely different game: not as many fans, wet and windy, bad pitch – it’s going to be as hard, if not harder at times, than the Linfield game. Everybody can get up for Linfield but away to Carrick is a different story. We need to get straight back on it.”

The incentive to go six clear at the top before Linfield travel to Glenavon tomorrow and Larne visit Glentoran is huge for Doherty and co.

Last season, Cliftonville were well placed to win the league but struggled to win key games after the split. Doherty is hoping there can be a different narrative at the end of this season.

“Last year was a shock to everybody. Our squad is quite young. When we went top of the league most of us hadn’t experienced it before. Hopefully with that experience under our belts and going through that again will help us.

“Last year, we didn’t beat Linfield so, for me, you can’t win the league if you don’t beat your rivals all season. You just can’t. So that’s a step extra compared to last year. We have beaten them and we have that off our backs. But things can change. I still think six teams can win it if one team puts a run of wins together. I think we were on less points than what we have now. I just think everybody is doing better.”