Ballinamallard goalkeeper John Connolly says that they will approach Saturday’s Ferney Park clash against Ballyclare Comrades in the same manner as any other match, despite the magnitude of the game.

Victory over the County Antrim side will see the Mallards secure a top six finish if runaway league leaders Larne can defeat Loughgall in the final round of fixtures before the league divides in half. It is a pivotal moment of the season, but for the keeper it is business as usual.

“It’s a big game and it could turn our whole season around, but we will treat it no differently to any other game,” he revealed.

“It will be a tough game. They are coming off the back of a good win over Portadown on Saturday so they will be confident and by all accounts they had a decent performance up at Windsor in the cup even though they got beaten.

“We are under no illusions that it will be a tough game, but we are at home and it’s up to us to take the game to them and get the result that we need. If we can get into the top six we will finish the season playing really competitive games and we can look up at trying to push on from there.”

The 41 year old goalkeeper was a summer recruit and one of Harry McConkey’s first signings as he attempted to rebuild the squad following Ballinamallard’s relegation to the Championship. Connolly spent eight years at Cliftonville, and was most recently at Portadown before an achilles injury forced him out of the game for almost a year. McConkey identified him as the experienced player that he wanted to oversee his backline and set about trying to attract him to Ferney Park.

“I was lucky to have a few options but by the time we were half way through the meeting I think I had already made up my mind that I was going to sign for Harry,” said John.

“I’ve definitely had no regrets. It’s a great club and people can’t do enough for you around the place. Training is fantastic and every detail is covered. Everything is done for you and you don’t wish for anything. I’m enjoying it and looking forward to Saturday now.”

A top half finish would represent a remarkable turnaround in the on-field fortunes of the club. After struggling to adapt to the Championship in the early stages of the season, the defence have only conceded seven goals in their last ten matches and that has provided a solid foundation for their unexpected rise up the table.

“I don’t think even at the beginning of December people were giving us a chance of making the top six,” admitted John.

“When we were going through that difficult period, we weren’t crying about it but we had so many injuries and players playing in different positions, and we never had a settled team. We just got on with it and lucky enough now we have had a pretty settled team and results have shown that. When you are on a good run confidence obviously grows and you can see that among the players, not only in games but at training as well.”

If the Mallards can sneak into the top six on Saturday then it opens up the possibility of continuing their climb up the table in a bid to reach third and the final promotion play-off spot. The Mallards could be as little as five points off that spot if other results go their way on Saturday, but Connolly is refusing to look that far ahead.

“We will get Saturday out of the way first,” he said.

“After that it is game by game, no matter what happens Saturday. We will be taking it game by game. That is what we have been doing up to now and it is working for us, so we will keep doing it.”