Cliftonville boss Breslin upbeat on title challenge

Crusaders keeper Sean O'Neill keeps out this shot from Cliftonville forward David McDaid
Crusaders keeper Sean O'Neill keeps out this shot from Cliftonville forward David McDaid

Cliftonville boss Tommy Breslin remains confident that the Reds can retain the Premiership crown despite slipping to fourth place in the title race.

A 1-0 defeat by Crusaders on Boxing Day leaves the north Belfast side seven points behind leaders Linfield.

"We're a good side but we are going through a phase where every mistake we make is being punished," said Breslin.

"There's still plenty of points to play for - we'll try to hang in there and hope other teams have a rocky spell."

Breslin was left to rue missed chances after Paul Heatley's goal gave Crusaders a victory which takes them three points ahead of the Solitude team.

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Crusaders Paul Heatley fires in the winner in a hard fought victory at Solitude

"We deserved more out of the game but if you don't score goals that's what happens," added Breslin.

"We got into some good situations although to be fair to Crusaders they defended for their lives and got some good blocks in.

"It's disappointing - we needed to be a bit sharper, for someone to take responsibility in the final third and to get better quality finishes."

Crusaders are now Linfield's nearest challengers and the sides meet in a top-two showdown at Seaview on New Year's Day.

"This was a massive win for us in terms of the title race," said Crues captain Colin Coates.

"We dug in and just about shaded it, and importantly we have opened up a gap to Cliftonville.

"We are on the coat-tails of Linfield and the derby win really helps our confidence going into another crucial game."

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