CLIFTONVILLE manager Paddy McLaughlin believes that Glentoran’s enforced two-week downtime could go one of two ways.
The Glens make the trip to Solitude on Tuesday evening (7.45pm kick-off) looking to bounce back from back-to-back defeats to Crusaders and Linfield at the beginning of the month.
Recent games against Glenavon and Carrick Rangers fell victim to the big freeze in recent week and have left Mick McDermott’s side without a competitive fixture since December 6 and McLaughlin is hoping that it will have an impact on the East Belfast outfit.
“That’s what we’re hoping for, having no game for two weeks can go definitely go one of two ways,” McLaughlin believes.
“It freshens you up or you could come in a wee bit lethargic and a wee bit sloppy. Our boys are coming in game after game and hopefully back building momentum again. It can go either way, it can go for you or go against you and hopefully for us, it goes against them, and we can continue on where we left off today.”
After a 10-day break themselves, the Reds returned to winning ways with a 4-1 win over Portadown at the weekend and McLaughlin insists the win was important as they try to remain within the chasing pack at the top of the table.
“We set standards for ourselves, and we want to be up there at the top end challenging,” insists McLaughlin.
“We want to stay with the leaders, so it was really, really important that we got a result today.
“Portadown came in off the back of a couple of results recently, they lost the points against Newry but they won the game and they were excellent. We had them watched last week and they were excellent again, so they were coming into it again in a bit of form after a poor enough start to the season.
“We knew it was going to be difficult but fair play to them if they work like that for the remainder of the season, they’ll definitely pick up their points.”
Joe Gormley netted his 14th career hat-trick, breaking a club record previously held by Sid Over and McLaughlin was full of praise for the 33-year-old.
“What a player, what a man and what a goal-scoring record he’s got,” reflected McLaughlin.
“Hopefully there are many more to come and I’m sure there will be. Another hat-trick and I think he’s proving his worth yet again in front of goal. Three chances and three goals, that’s clinical and that is ruthless and that’s what we always ask our strikers to be. Clinical and ruthless in the final third and if you can do like Joe normally can.
“He’s our record goal scorer and record hat-trick holder and he’s probably sick of going home with match-balls.
“His shed out the back is probably full of them at this stage. It was well deserved, and he was brilliant for us today. As much as they all played really well in the second half, Joe was the obvious stand-out.”
The Derry native also acknowledged the quick thinking of one of the ball boys who quickly fed Levi Ives and assisted in Ronan Hale’s injury-time strike.
“It’s 13 in the league and 15 in total [for Ronan Hale], an assist from the ball boy as well, sharp reactions from the ball boy. He got one last year and got one this year for us so fair play to him. We have to get him on a form before somebody tries to sign him,” McLaughlin joked.
“It was quick thinking and fair play to Levi he was sharp, and Ronan got himself another goal. He’s been brilliant for us since he came in and I think that’s his 15th goal of the season. It’s a great return at this stage of the season.”