IRISH LEAGUE REACTION: Barry Gray and Colin Nixon after Cliftonville’s 3-0 over Ards

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Clifonville manager Barry Gray was more than happy to see his side secure three Danske Bank Premiership points in a 3-0 win over Ards at Solitude on Friday night.

Jay Donnelly bagged a hat-trick as Cliftonville beat Ards 3-0,

Gray said: “It was another good performance in what has been a very encouraging run lately.

“We’ve had five games in 14 days and won four of them, with the one defeat coming at the end of what was still a very good display, so we can’t have any complaints about the commitment of the players or what they’ve done.

“Jay Donnelly has been doing that for us all season and offers a threat in a variety of positions.

“I would say 90 per cent of his performances have been in wide areas and he has always done a job for us out there. He continually chips in with goals and go get 22 from a third striker is a fantastic return.

“He has worked very hard tonight, but so has the whole team. The work rate across the board was fantastic and we’ve rightly got the reward of three points.

“We’ve been a bit leggy recently and you could see some players just couldn’t wait for the game to be over but we’re now through this hectic period and we’ll go back to a normal week of two nights training and a game on the Saturday next week.”

Meanwhile, Ards manager Colin Nixon said: “People might see the scoreline and think we’ve been turned over here but that was far from the case.

“There’s no way we’ve deserved to lose 3-0, which was very harsh on us. Our defending was generally good, apart from the goals we gave away and we were guilty of some poor finishing at the other end – especially at crucial times, because Cliftonville scored just after some of them and that obviously makes a big difference.

“I don’t like to moan about referees – mainly because there’s no point – but the Cliftonville goalkeeper has clearly handled outside the box and what can you do about refereeing decisions like that?

“It’s very hard to take and I know refereeing is a difficult job but when you work hard all week, put the shift in at training, prepare your game plan and go out and work hard, it’s difficult to accept something like that going against you.

“I’m proud of how we’ve played here because, as I said, no way was it a 3-0 game. We were much better than that and deserved more.”