Ballinamallard United manager Harry McConkey says that they have to make sure that the concession of late goals don’t become a concern for his side.

Three weeks in a row now the Mallards have given away goals from the 87th minute onwards which has cost them points in the battle at the top of the table.

Against Loughgall an 87th minute goal saw them slip to a 2-1 defeat and this was followed by a 95th minute equaliser for Portadown. And last week the Ducks appeared to be on their way to the points when Jason McCartney put them 2-1 ahead against Ards from the penalty spot in the 85th minute only to concede two minutes later.

“There is no doubt that when you concede late goals three weeks in a row that you start to question are we learning from it,” said McConkey.

“To me, it is concentration and game management, where you need your senior players to pull everyone together and make sure that you don’t concede. I think all over the park we have to take responsibility for it. It is a difficult thing for us to put our finger on as the goals have all been different but the secret for us is not to dwell on it too much but it is something we will address.”

That late goal also cost McConkey’s charges the opportunity to close the gap to Portadown to three points with the Ports going down 3-1 to Dergview on Saturday.

“When the result comes from Darragh Park that Dergview have done their bit and we haven’t done ours it’s so disappointing. The three points would have been fantastic and had us right back in there,” he added.

However, the Ducks boss was also honest enough to admit that his side did not play well enough to merit all three points.

“I don’t think that we deserved much more than a draw out of that game and we could so easily have lost it. The most worrying thing for me is that we felt the performance was good against Portadown and we wanted to launch from that and continue with really good form against Ards.

“And we played with purpose in the first 20 minutes and got the goal and you feel now we can go on and build on this but after the goal we regressed.”

Ards hit back to deservedly level up matters in the 76th minute but the home side looked as if they would snatch all three points when Jason McCartney rifled home from the spot nine minutes later.

“Ards had been on top but we got the penalty from a sporadic break and I thought that would win it for us. It was then a case of learning the lessons from last week and seeing it out and not conceding but I was gobsmacked with how easily they broke and got the goal,” added Harry.

The league is put on the back burner this week as attention switches to the Irish Cup and McConkey is keen for his side to go on and book their place in the last eight for a second successive season although he says that he will make changes for the away clash against a Knockbreda side who sit bottom of the Championship table.

“It is a fixture that is a possible banana skin,” said McConkey.

“I believe Knockbreda will have no pressure on them but we are going to them at a time when they are conceding a lot of goals and have lost quite a few players during the January window.

We will use the game as an opportunity to give game time to players in our squad who we feel need to be brought up to speed but we won’t be underestimating it in any way. We have players sitting on the bench over the last couple of weeks who are bursting to play and this is maybe the opportunity we take to freshen things up a bit.”

And he acknowledges that reaching the quarter-finals for a second year in a row would be a massive feat for the club.

“You are excited by the prospect of making the quarter finals of the Irish Cup two years in a row when you hadn’t got that far in your history before so to get into that hat would be fantastic. We know though that it is not going to be easy,” he commented.