CLIFTONVILLE boss Jim Magilton has called on his players to manage their performances ahead of taking on a buoyant Glenavon side. 

The Lurgan Blues make the trip to Solitude on Saturday (3pm kick-off) with a spring in their step following Aaron Prendergast’s late equaliser at home to Linfield at the weekend.

The result firmly throws the title race wide open with just three points separating The Reds from first-place Larne.

Magilton wants his players to be ruthless in taking on the challenges that their opposition will provide and stop giving them encouragement. 

“At the end of the day, we still have to manage ourselves and we have to manage our own performances,” he said. 

“We have to control what we can control and at the end of the day, all it does is encourage Glenavon on Saturday. We’ve got Glenavon here, which will be an extremely tough game. They all are. 

“The resilience of the players and character of the players is outstanding. Managers are coming here and presenting us with massive challenges, and we have to overcome them. 

“We can’t encourage teams to come here and think that we’re going to be sloppy. I don’t want us to be sloppy, I want us to be ruthless.”

Magilton wasn’t particularly happy with sloppy aspects in his side’s victory over Coleraine at the weekend, but insists his high demands are set by the players. 

“I liked the goals and I like when we’re ruthless,” Magilton acknowledged. 

“You’re playing against good players. I thought we gave the ball away cheaply and I don’t particularly like that. 

“I don’t want to encourage anybody here to think that they’ve got a chance in the game. 

“At 2-0, I think we were a little bit sloppy and that just encourages the opposition. Overall, I’m very pleased but I have high demands, only set by the players.”

The Reds’ boss was again pleased with the options from the bench and pinpointed Conor Pepper and Chris Curran for their contributions. 

“The overall squad contribution was pleasing,” he agreed. 

“Obviously we have lost Ben [Wilson] with a calf injury and we don’t know the extent. We are then forced into another substitution. 

“There are lots of real good characters and Conor Pepper came into the group, came onto the pitch and he was an organiser - he was good. 

“Chris Curran again has been excellent and we did manage it - that was a very pleasing aspect. 

“It was our third game in seven days. I’m not too upset, I’m not the grinch - honestly, I’m not. I expect more and I demand more. It is nothing to do with Coleraine or the performance. I just really have high demands of them, and I want more.”

Magilton was also keen to praise the magnificence of Odhran Casey. 

The 21-year-old was shown two yellow cards in the victory over the Bannsiders. The first was his 10th yellow of the season and would have seen him miss upcoming clashes with Glenavon and Linfield, but the second yellow means he will only miss the Lurgan Blues clash. 

“He is still learning,” Magilton insists. 

“We’ve trusted him to go and play in that area of the pitch. He’s been magnificent this year for us, there is no question about that. He can be a little bit rash at times, but I think he has learned to temper that. 

“It’s two yellows and there is no argument from us about that at all. He is still learning the game, but we’re delighted for him.”