Derby steals part of the prize as Cliftonville aims for first place

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The victory would give Cliftonville fans reason to rejoice at the expense of their old rivals, the Crues, but, more importantly, a return to first place in the Premiership standings.

Paddy McLaughlin’s side are two points behind Linfield, the reigning champions having played one game less before the Solitude showdown.

The Crues will make the short trip from Seaview in an attempt to become the first team to take points at a Cliftonville roster with a home advantage.

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Cliftonville coach Paddy McLaughlin. Photo by Pacemaker.

The Crusaders shared the loot on Saturday with the Carrick Rangers in a scoreless draw, the club’s first since December 18 after postponements against Glenavon and Cliftonville.

McLaughlin’s men started the year with a 2-0 victory over Glenavon at the weekend which praised the Cliftonville boss for the energy level of his players despite the demands of the festive fixture list and a season impacted by the coronavirus and injuries across the league.

“I thought we looked great all the way through,” McLaughlin said on the official Cliftonville website. “The energy, organization and drive were superb and a reward for the hard work of the players during the holiday season.

“Now it is important that we maintain this.

“They didn’t let their energy levels drop and kept pushing for a third goal until the end.”

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