CLIFTONVILLE manager Paddy Mclaughlin is pleased that the luck of draw means that they have home advantage against a tough Newry City outfit this evening. 

The Reds host the Mournemen in the quarter-final of the Bet McLean League Cup (7.45pm kick-off) looking to advance to the last four of the competition for the second year in succession. 

McLaughlin is aware of the threat that Darren Mullan’s men pose at the top end of the pitch and is therefore pleased that home advantage may count in his side's favour. 

“It’s the luck of the draw and getting home advantage in the cup draw because we know how difficult Newry are,” McLaughlin acknowledges. 

“They’ve got real life about them at the top end of the pitch, and they’ll be a tough game here this evening. They’ll cause problems for us and have their threats, so having them at home is a big plus for us. 

“We know how important the fans are for us, you saw the role they played on Saturday. They kept with us and sometimes the game can be so flat and hard to watch at times, people can go home early but they stuck with us and fair play to them. They’ll play a part in it as well. 

“Home advantage is crucial in any competition and we want to defend our trophy. We saw how much it meant to the fans last year and how much is meant to the players, and we want to go through that and experience it again.

"It’s important we defend our trophy with all we have. It’s nice we won ugly on Saturday, but it will be a completely different game because Newry are attack minded.”

The Reds' boss is under no illusions that his players will perform better and lose games after they were forced to dig out a hard-fought win over Carrick Rangers on Saturday. 

“We’ll play a lot better in games this year and probably lose points,” admits McLaughlin. 

“Sometimes you have to win ugly and that was one of them games. None of us were at our best, the oppositions game plan was working really well, and they frustrated the life out of us right throughout the match and sometimes you just have to find a way to win. Fair play to our boys, they dug in and found a way to win."

Saturday's game kick-started a run of five games in 14 days and although McLaughlin is worried his squad could be stretched with knocks and niggles, he is confident that they will prepare properly and recover in-between times. 

“It’s definitely a busy fortnight for us over the next fourteen days with five games,” McLaughlin added.  

“Our boys are part-time and it’s important that they look after themselves and recover. The boys will do that, they always do – they never let us down with how they prepare and how they recover between games. 

“They understand and we spoke about the importance our squad will be over the next few weeks. It will be really crucial, young Sean Moore will come back against Glenavon after Tuesday night – it will be his last game of his suspension. We’ve got Levi [Ives] back doing a bit of running and hopefully Stephen Mallon. 

“We will be stretched over the next two weeks because we will pick up our knocks and pick up our niggles. But it’s important that we keep preparing and recovering in-between and fair play to those boys. They never let you down to when it comes to that kind of stuff. It’s a big couple of weeks, but we’re ready for it.”