CLIFTONVILLE manager Paddy McLaughlin was particularly impressed with his side’s shape and discipline out of possession following their weekend win against Glentoran.
The hosts were under the cosh for large periods but limited the Glens and then scored the game’s only goal through Ryan Curran 20 minutes from time.
McLaughlin thought his side weathered a tough opening and were fantastic for long spells.
“When you’re playing against good sides, especially Glentoran who are going to have spells of possession, you’ve got to be disciplined in what you’re doing out of possession,” he explained.
“If you go gung-ho, they’ll pop it around you and cut you open for fun. I think they did that early in the game. In the first five or 10 minutes they’d a couple of half-chances, a couple of good balls were flashed across the six-yard line.
“I think when we got to grips with it, our discipline and our shape out of possession was fantastic throughout the match and we really nullified them down to almost long-balls.
“When they’re playing long balls against you, you don’t mind because we expect our back four to defend that, and we did that right throughout. I think as much as we play good football in the second half, the shape of team was excellent right throughout.”
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McLaughlin is hoping that his side will make Solitude a fortress this season after chalking up three home wins from three and attributes credit to the home support for their part.
“Three out three at home is a brilliant start for us,” he reflected.
“If we can make Solitude a fortress this year, it will give us a great platform to build on throughout the season.
“We’ve got to mention the fans throughout the game. I thought they were brilliant, they made racket from minute one to minute 95. They played a huge part, especially late in the game whenever boys were tired.
“We’ve got to make this place a fortress and have teams dreading coming here and with our start so far, teams will probably not look forward to it as much as they might have. They’ll look forward to playing on the surface, but they’ll not want to play against our boys with the form they’re in at the minute.”
Declan Dunne kept his first clean sheet of the campaign in Saturday’s win and McLaughlin was impressed with his current number one and has called on him to maintain his high standards.
“He’s been excellent and he’s been thrown in at the deep end,” McLaughlin admits.
“Young McNicholas has been unavailable since the first game of the season and Declan has been thrown straight in and has grasped his opportunity with both hands. “He’s been here now and playing under a few top 'keepers in ‘Brushy’ (Richard Brush) and big McCarey and he’s waited patiently for his chance and got it.
“He’s been excellent for us in the three games so far, so it’s up to him now to maintain his high standards because he was really reassuring at the back.
“He dealt with anything he had to deal with, he had a strong back four in front of him, the midfield three worked their socks off to protect him and when he was called into action he dealt with anything that came his way brilliantly, so fair play to him.”