Ballinamallard manager Harry McConkey has vowed to take the same approach to their match against Portadown as any other, even though the top of the table encounter could play a vital role in the outcome of the Championship title.

The Mallards go into the match six points adrift of the leaders knowing victory would take them to within one win of their main title rivals, but the manager is not making any special preparations for the visit of the league leaders to Ferney Park.

“We know the supporters will put another emphasis on it but truthfully we will give the same application in our preparation and give the same respect we gave Knockbreda this week,” said Harry.

“When second are playing first that is always a big game and the fact they are six points ahead of us leaves it more interesting for everybody concerned, but the Portadown match for us as a group is no different to every other game we play in this league in that we have to win it, just like the other games.”

Portadown come into the match having lost only one of their last 17 league games since Ballinamallard got the better the better of them at Shamrock Park in August.

That run has lifted them clear at the top of the table, but it has not always been smooth sailing and it is six games since they last won a match by more than a single goal.

“They have put an incredible run together and got through games with the right results but they haven’t been dominating games for long periods,” explained Harry.

“The fact that we have already gone up to their own patch and beaten them means that we should in no way be afraid of them, but you just have to look at their results to see how hard they have been to beat. We know their personnel very well. They are a team that haven’t been playing very well but they have an incredible goalkeeper in Robert Edwards, Paddy McNally at the back is extremely strong for them and scoring goals from set pieces, and you have the likes of Adam Sally up top who is playing well. They are a team that is full of quality players.”

Ballinamallard can come into the game on the back of a convincing victory against Knockbreda.

Despite falling behind to an early goal the Mallards responded well and confirmed their position as the league’s top scorers with four unanswered goals. The convincing win came despite the absence of four first team regulars, with Jason McCartney getting married, and Nathan Cashel, Ross Taheny and Chris Kelly also unavailable.

“This was an opportunity to boost morale in the squad,” said Harry. “We had four players away and it was an opportunity for people to come in and get some valuable game time and hopefully get a good result and a good performance.

“Knockbreda had boosted their form with a new manager and had some terrific results so it was always going to be a tricky one. When the game started we were on the front foot but we missed opportunities. The keeper denied us several times and then they went up the pitch and got a deflected goal.

“You could have felt that it wasn’t going to be our day again but the boys rallied really well and controlled so much of the ball. Our build up play was excellent and some of our passes and some of our combinations were brilliant. We had several chances to score before we did and our equaliser was just reward for the play we had been putting together.

“At half-time we were 2-1 up but we were still conscious that they could be dangerous on the break even though they had hardly threatened our goal. We got the third with another superb bit of finishing from Rocket. We introduced the youngsters Alex Holder, Sam Robb and Simon Warrington and they gave us another wee boost of energy.”

All four players absent against Knockbreda are available for selection against Portadown on Saturday, but Callum Moorehead and Aaron Arkinson are both unlikely to feature as they have not recovered from injury.