Ballinamallard United manager Harry McConkey was pleased with what he saw on Saturday as his side played out a 2-2 draw against Premiership side Cliftonville at Ferney Park - the Ducks having led 2-0 only for the Reds to strike twice late on.

McConkey stresses though that results aren’t that important at this stage of the season.

“Supporters love to see results and goals but as coaches when we set out in pre-season we are looking at the performances of individuals and also at the collective in how well we gel and see if we can start to get understandings. In that respect it was pleasing,” said McConkey.

That is two weeks in a row that the Mallards have held Premiership sides to draws following on from the previous outing against Warrenpoint.

“The performances have been good in pre-season but you felt once you started stepping up the ladder and playing tougher opposition you might well be found out on what you are failing on.

“But, I have to say, we responded really well against Warrenpoint and then again on Saturday against Cliftonville.

“To be 2-0 up in the game with not long to go is a fair indicator that we have competed very well,” he said.

Ballinamallard caused Cliftonville all sorts of problems on the counter with Darragh McBrien outstanding on the right and Josh McIlwaine influential throughout.

“I would say that they dominated quite a bit of possession at times but we were effective on the break and that is something that we have been working on and I feel that it is still an area that we can improve further on.

“I thought Josh was a fulcrum for us on Saturday and we were delighted to give him 90 minutes. He was very good and he did well for the first goal. He supplied the cross and when the ball came back into play he was there to head home.

“Darragh too was very hard for them to handle,” he added.

And he as also happy with how they coped at the other end of the pitch.

“Defensively, I thought there was a lot of composure. Mattie and Ben were excellent in the centre and Ryan Morrow I thought had a great game as did wee Arko. Ryan Morris and Micheál Glynn came on and they also did well.”

Morrow was the only one of the four new signings to play and McConkey feels the new additions have helped to up everybody’s game.

“We have Dean Curry who will train this week and Niall Grace to come in, he had a wee niggle so we didn’t chance him. Mattie Buchanan has also come in and I think the competition has stepped up everybody’s game and that’s where you want to get in that you have to work hard to stay in this team.”

After a run of games, McConkey will give his players a break this weekend before getting back down to work ahead of a busy programme.

“We deliberately decided to take a break this week. This is our ninth week and it was hard to see when else we could get a break so we will train really hard this week and then give the boys time with the families and get a freshener before Dungannon the following week.

“We then have a busy run where we have Crusaders away, we have a midweek North West Cup and we have Coleraine also to come,” stated McConkey.