Paddy McLaughlin putting fast football behind Cliftonville’s slow-but-steady progress
Paddy McLaughlin is putting fast football at the heart of Cliftonville’s slow-but-steady progress.
The Reds had Joe Gormley and Rory Donnelly to thank for three points in Lurgan but a goal in each half proved a rare positive in McLaughlin’s analysis of either side of the interval.
McLaughlin joined Cliftonville in February and has spent the past nine months reshaping and restructuring the Solitude squad towards his own blueprint.
If the names on the scoresheet proved one familiar but welcome extension of the past, the fact that Andy Hall’s equaliser marked the first Danske Bank Premiership goal conceded by Cliftonville in 401 minutes served as evidence of a defensive resolve absent too often under previous regimes.
“What we are trying to do is not something that comes overnight, we want the players relaxed and playing football from the back and through the thirds,” said McLaughlin. “They are getting better at it and even keeping clean sheets is a big part and it means you don’t need to be scoring three or four goals to win a game.
“To go 401 minutes of league play between conceding goals is some return and all the credit in the world must go to the boys.
“Richard Brush made a couple of vital saves rushing off his line and I beleive he’s the best goalkeeper in the Irish League at the minute.
“Then he’s got boys in front of him throwing bodies on the line.
“It’s a competitive league with top-drawer strikers so that is a phenomenal record and fantastic to have kept so many clean sheets but now we start again.
“At half-time the message was to speed up our play, we felt the first half was too slow with a lot of our build-up play back towards our own goal.
“We were then aggressive to get the ball back and move it forward quickly after the break which, when we do that, we are a better side.
“We’ve got a frontline that can hurt anyone so we’ve got to provide as much supply as possible in the final third.
“It was some finish from Rory, just top quality.
“The players are working all the time on finishing and if you saw it on ‘Match Of The Day’ you’d be raving about the goal.
“He deserves all the credit in the world for that moment of magic.
“That magic is something Rory has in abundance but he’s not the only one at this club, we are blessed with such talented strikers.
“I was delighted with the second half after a first half a bit flat and scrappy.
“We came out in the second half, played more to our strengths on the front foot.
“It’s all about momentum and progression, that is what we believe and we’ve got to keep on developing.”