Ballinamallard manager Harry McConkey has called on his side to demonstrate they can produce consistently good performances, as they look to bounce back from their Newry defeat with a win at Ballyclare Comrades.

The Mallards delivered two convincing victories over Institute and Queens in the space of four days, scoring seven goals without reply, but those wins have been sandwiched between defeats to Harland and Wolff Welders and Newry City, leaving the Mallards sitting in fifth place.

In a league table where second to eighth place is covered by just four points, a run of wins could catapult Ballinamallard into title contention, but they have struggled to field a consistent side due to injury and unavailability.

“It is the team that can get some level of consistency that is going to be at the top end of the league at the end of the season,” reckoned McConkey.

“From week to week teams are losing players and people are clearly picking up injuries a bit more frequently than normal after 18 months out. I think all clubs are being affected and that is why you are seeing these crazy results. We need to be seeking that consistency and that is all we can strive for.; to keep our standards up and come back to the training pitch with a full focus on Ballyclare. There will be more shock results before this is all over, and it is a case of making sure we stay in this race as long as we can.”

Saturday’s opponents Ballyclare were the victims of one of those shock results last Saturday, when they fell to a 2-0 home defeat by bottom club Queens University, and although Ballinamallard were also on the wrong end of a 2-0 score line, the manager believes the performance did give him reasons for optimism.

“The plus is that we know we can more than match the team that is at the top of the table, and we have to adopt the same approach against Ballyclare,” he said.

“They suffered a surprise defeat by Queens, but I know they have two or three players returning. It is going to be another battle that you couldn’t call the outcome of, but on our home patch we will be trying to make amends for what was a horrible result up there in the first game of the season.”

Ballinamallard will be boosted by the return to the squad of Sean McEvoy who is back in contention for Ballyclare following his Gaelic commitments. There were no fresh injury concerns following the Newry game, although McCartney will remain on the side lines.

“Sean is back with us this week and he will certainly be coming into contention early on. He is in good shape and is rearing to go so that will be a plus for us,” revealed McConkey.

“We feel that Duwayne McManus, Ben McCann, and Dean Curry are all making progress, but we are not sure if they are going to be ready for Saturday. We are having to be patient with them because we don’t want them breaking down again, so we have to bring them back with a little bit of caution.

"Jamie Ray has an ankle problem, but Peter Campbell made his debut against Newry. He has been doing well with the under 20s and he made a good impression for the short time he was on the pitch and I’m sure we are going to see more if him in the future. Sadly, we will be without Jay McCartney again through work commitments and it will be some weeks before he is back in with us.”