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Reds aiming to end their Ballymena hoodoo

Levi Ives will be out for a number of weeks after suffering a broken foot against Institute  Levi Ives will be out for a number of weeks after suffering a broken foot against Institute
By Kevin Herron

CLIFTONVILLE manager Paddy McLaughlin insists his side have got to win every game, regardless of the opposition.

The Reds make the trip to the Warden Street Showgrounds on Saturday to take on Ballymena United (3pm kick-off) hoping to claim their first away win at the venue since February 2014.

The Sky Blues claimed two victories from the corresponding fixtures last season and Reds’ boss McLaughlin is adamant that his side must win every game if they want to challenge at the top of table.

“We’ve got to win every game,” said McLaughlin.

“If you want to be challenging at the top end of the division, you’ve got to be winning every game.

“Whether it be against top sides or bottom six sides, it doesn’t matter who you play – you’ve got to be pushing to win every game.

“It was the same against Institute and it will be the same against Ballymena. We’ll try and win the game the best we can.

“Ballymena are a good side. I know they suffered a defeat against Glenavon at the weekend and they’ll looking to bounce back from it, but we’ll go there to try and win the match like we do every game.”

Cliftonville go into the game off the back of three consecutive victories without conceding a goal, with the most recent a hard fought 1-0 win over Institute.

McLaughlin acknowledged that his side has played better in recent weeks and lost and felt that winning despite playing below par was a positive.

“We’ve played better and lost,” McLaughlin acknowledged.

“The Linfield game two weeks ago, we were excellent in the game.

“I think we matched Linfield all around the pitch and we came away with nothing to show from it, for all our hard work.

“I don’t think we played at the right tempo against Institute. We didn’t keep the ball enough; we were a wee bit rash with our decision making, but we won the game and it’s important that we won the game.

“It’s not a bad thing whenever you don’t play well and win the match.”

Saturday’s victory was the Reds’ third win in succession without conceding a goal and although McLaughlin admits that his side are in the business of entertainment, he believes it is also necessary to win ugly and felt that’s just what his team delivered.

“We’re all football fans and want our teams to score plenty of goals and entertain us and that’s the business we’re in,” admits McLaughlin.

“But I think when the dust settles and you wake up in the morning and read the paper, we’ve won the game and kept a clean sheet.

“They’ll understand that sometimes it isn’t always free-flowing and as nice to watch as you want.
Sometimes you have to roll your sleeves up and win ugly and that’s what we did against Institute.”

McLaughlin will be without the services of Levi Ives for the next few weeks after the left-back suffered a broken foot in the early stages of Saturday’s victory, but Ronan Wilson should return the match day squad having missed Saturday’s game through an operation on his tonsils.

Saturday’s fixtures (all 3pm)
Ballymena United vs Cliftonville
Coleraine vs Larne
Crusaders vs Glentoran
Dungannon Swifts vs Carrick Rangers
Linfield vs Glenavon
Warrenpoint Town vs Institute

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