CLIFTONVILLE manager Paddy McLaughlin insists that there is no better setting to bounce back from their weekend collapse than Windsor Park.
The Reds make the cross-city trip to take on Linfield this evening (7.45pm kick-off) aiming to collect all three points after the weekend's disappointing 2-2 draw with Glenavon.
Last season both sides were slugging it out in a breath-taking title race that went to the wire as Linfield secured their 56th league title. But both sides find themselves off the early pacesetters after the first round of fixtures.
McLaughlin is sure that the fixture will prove to be his side's toughest of the season to date and is hopeful they will be able to try and find their best form before the Blues.
“There’s no better game to bounce back from than going to the home of the champions and going to Windsor Park,” acknowledges McLaughlin.
“It’s a big setting and a big pitch that suits our play down to the ground. There is no time or place now for sucking our thumb in self-pity. We’ve got to be prepared now for our toughest game of the season and that’s I’m sure what Linfield will throw at us - it will be a tough one.
“People are criticising them for not playing their free-flowing football and I don’t think anybody is at this stage, bar one or two teams. It is two sides that are working their socks off and working hard to try and find our best form. Hopefully, we can find ours before them and hopefully it starts on Tuesday night.”
The Derry native has called on his side to be more ruthless at both ends of the pitch in the wake of their disappointing collapse against Glenavon and feels they can kill games off sooner if they begin to take their chances.
“The first thing I said when I came in, we created two or three chances in the first half and two or three chances early in the second half and we could have put the game to bed and that’s something that we’ve got to do more - we’ve got to be more ruthless at both ends,” McLaughlin insists.
“We’ve got to be ruthless in keeping clean sheets and ruthless in converting your chances that we create, because when we do create chances we can put teams to bed.
“If we do, do that more regularly then we’ll probably kill a game off a lot sooner than we do and sooner than trying to see it out for the last five or ten minutes. We’ve got to be more clinical and more ruthless in both ends, defensively and in attack.”
Odhran Casey will be unavailable for the next three games after receiving a red card late on in the weekend clash, despite referee Ross Dunlop initially taking out a yellow card and later changing his mind.
That particular decision left McLaughlin questioning the role that the fourth official plays in certain scenarios.
“The referee gave him a yellow card and decided 30 seconds later it was a red card,” recalled McLaughlin.
“We need to clear things up in what the role is of the fourth official. They are either there to influence decisions or they’re not, because when you call for something they tell you it’s not their call.
“Obviously, something has happened down the mic to change his mind from a yellow card to a red.
“That’s one thing I’d like to know, is the fourth official there to advise and direct? Because a couple of calls we asked for in the first half, he’s says it’s nothing to do with him and then obviously something has been said because the referee has booked him and 30 seconds later he’s went to a red card.
“I don’t understand it, it’s a clumsy and a bit of a careless tackle. I think Odhran is just trying to stop a counterattack. He knows he’s just going to take a yellow card and for whatever reason, the referee has changed his mind in between.”