After a battling performance in the first round of the Irish Cup, Ballinamallard Manager Harry McConkey knows his side are in for another stiff test when they take on Annagh United on Saturday.

Sitting second and third respectively in Championship One, both teams are tied on 41 points, with the Ducks having a slightly better goal difference.

Following their derby defeat to Dergview, Ballinamallard have shown in their last two games they can play some free-flowing football and also grind it out when needed.

“For us having had that disappointment on derby day with Dergview, it was so important that in these two games [Queen’s and Ards Rangers] we hit back, and we have done that,” said McConkey,

Looking ahead to Annagh, McConkey wants the momentum to continue: “I was hoping their rearranged game against Loughgall on Tuesday would go ahead, but it has been postponed again due to a floodlighting issue.

“They are flying high right now and had another good win in the Cup on Saturday where we had them watched .

“This is another vital game for us and we must go to their very tight 4g pitch and perform.”

Last Saturday’s 2-0 win over Ards Rangers saw Ballinamallard move into the hat for the second round of the Irish Cup where they were drawn at home against Premiership club Crusaders.

Having reached the final in 2019, the Mallards boss knows the affinity the club has to the competition.

“The romance of the cup continues with our draw at home to Crusaders. It’s a fine reward for the lads who battled so hard on Saturday and the supporters who cheered us on in atrocious conditions.

“Crusaders have just defeated Glenavon 4-0 at Mourneview Park last Friday; it was on TV.

“We all witnessed how lethal and clinical they can be even when not playing particularly well in possession.

“They are a physical side, but with some very talented individuals in all three thirds of the pitch,” added McConkey.

Looking back at his side’s victory last Saturday, relief was the overriding emotion for McConkey.

In a game where they did not have things all their own way against the Intermediate side, the Manager was happy to be in the next round.

“I think the overriding emotion is relief. I think there was a banana skin there for sure.

“It was a typical Irish Cup Day, it had everything in terms of a team coming from a lower league and as much respect as you give them, you know it’s about being on your own game and I thought at times we were frustrating with the final ball in the last third.

“You could see wee glimpses where we caused them problems, so it was a bit frustrating and the players knew that, and in fairness to them they stuck at it, and in the Irish Cup you just need one goal to get through.”

It was a depleted Ballinamallard squad at Ferney Park on Saturday, with 10 players missing, but McConkey was full of praise for players that came in, including Jamie Ray in goals and substitute Peter Campbell, who scored the second goal in extra time.

“You have lived it all today and I’m just so glad to come out on the right side of it, because it has been a tough week. We were stretched.

“To see young Peter walk around the goalkeeper with the ball so coolly – and he’s a kid who we have had in, and has not had a lot of pitch time, but he trains so hard with the squad.

“It sends a message to our supporters that for young players, there’s a pathway there.

“We had a 17-year-old in goals and I thought Jamie did very well of what was asked of him.”