Ballinamallard suffered a seventh league defeat on Saturday when losing to Loughgall at Ferney Park.

However, Harry McConkey’s side have shown a great ability to bounce back from those losses having won the next game after the five previous defeats and they will be aiming to make that six this Saturday when they travel to Shamrock Park for the big top of the table clash against Portadown.

“We have reacted well to any defeat we have had this season and hopefully we can do that again on Saturday,” said Ducks boss McConkey.

That defeat to Loughgall coupled with the Ports win means that there is six points separating the sides going into the Shamrock Park meeting but McConkey is not about to analyse things too much at this stage and feels that there is still a lot of twists and turns yet to come before the season reaches a conclusion.

“There is an awful lot of football to be played yet and a lot of points to play for.

“It is a reminder of how quickly things can change. People were talking far too much in advance for me about going up to the Premiership and that but all you want to do is put yourself in the race and at the minute we are in the race.

I wanted us this year to improve on our fifth place finish last season and we are ahead of that for a start but we are also realistic to know that two or three poor results can send you down the table.

“You can’t get to carried away, I just want people to be realistic. I think what we need now is calm heads and just keep taking each game as it comes and giving it our very best. Too much analysis can cause panic and nervousness and that’s what we mustn’t get into,” he stated.

There is no hiding away though from the importance of this Saturday’s game at the top end of the table although McConkey is not going to get into whether it is a must win one.

“The Portadown game is another that you can get three points.

“Look, everybody will know the significance of it in terms of the table but for me as a coach it is a game that we always desperately want to win and we will give it absolutely everything and take whatever comes after that.

“We knew from December that this game coming up was going to be a very important one for us and yes last Saturday’s results make it that little bit more significant. But we haven’t time to overthink that, all we have to do is get a clear mind of what the gameplan will be to try and exploit a team that has been going really well.

“You have to give Portadown credit, they have had very few bumps on the road and when they have been playing badly they have been able to grind out results which is a great habit,” he stated.

The Mallards will though take confidence from the fact that of Portadown’s three league defeats this season, two of them have been at Ballinamallard’s hands.

“We have had two wonderful performances against them and two great results and that’s what we will be looking at,” he said.

Indeed, McConkey wants his side to recover the form they displayed when they dispatched of Portadown at Ferney Park last month.

“We know we have to go to Portadown and perform well and being truthful we haven’t performed at the the level we performed against them since then.

“It would be lovely to go and produce a performance because if we do get a good result it puts us right back in there,” he acknowledged.

He is very wary though of the threat that the Reds will pose, especially from set pieces.

“We know we can more than match them in the open play aspect of the game but their set plays have got them out of jail a lot. They are very dangerous from set pieces and it is an area that we are going to have to be very aware of. But we are also a threat in the box and I think both teams will be wary of giving away corners and free kicks.”

On Saturday, Ballinamallard looked to be on their way to a rarity this season, a draw - a result they have only recorded once in the league- but a Dale Malone free kick three minutes from time secured a 2-1 win for Loughgall.

Having recovered from conceding an early goal, the Mallards then enjoyed the better of things in the third quarter but a strong penalty appeal for a pull on Callum Moorehead wasn’t given while a few other chances were not taken and they were made to pay the price for this.

“At the start of the second half I thought that we stepped it up another level but unfortunately decisions didn’t go our way when we could have had a penalty. We also had two headers that we didn’t score from and although we continued creating we failed to make them count and that leaves you vulnerable.

“I thought the goal they got was from an innocuous free kick but it was executed brilliantly so you have to give him credit for that.

It was very disappointing though to come away empty handed,” he said.