Tommy Breslin has faith in Cliftonville to find form

Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin
Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin

Tommy Breslin won’t be hitting the panic button despite Friday’s north Belfast derby defeat to rivals Crusaders dragging Cliftonville seven points behind Danske Bank Premiership leaders Linfield.

Paul Heatley’s strike on the hour mark was enough to earn the Crues a victory which lifted them up into second place but, even though his men have now suffered three losses during a dismal month of December, Breslin is confident that his squad possess the character necessary to turn things round.

“They have proven themselves before and I’m sure they’ll do so again but what’s important is that we start getting things right sooner rather than later,” he explains.

“We’ve had a few defeats recently but we’ve been well in the games and it comes down to little margins where our decision-making in the final third is counting against us, with seemingly every mistake we make at the other end being punished.

“There are now seven points between us and the top but there are 45 points left to play for so there’s no panic or throwing the towel in.

“Teams go through little blips and all the sides challenging for the title have had their difficult patches. We just need to work through ours and hopefully we can start to get things back on track when we face Ballinamallard,” Breslin added.

While the Reds are off to Ferney Park tomorrow, Crusaders are gearing up to welcome the Blues for what promises to be a mouth-watering New Year’s Day scrap.

Indeed it is a fixture could prove pivotal in the race for the Gibson Cup crown – not that Crues boss Stephen Baxter is daring to get ahead of himself.

“I know it’s something I’ve spoken about for a long time and there are plenty of managers in this league who say it every week themselves, but being in the mix at the turn of the year is important to any title challenge,” he says.

“People would say it’s Crusaders’ best chance of winning the league for many years, but the same could be said of some other clubs up there as well.

“There are probably four who are in with a genuine chance of doing it. The key for us is to make sure we keep improving and hopefully the players we’re bringing in can help keep us on that path,” he added.