Ballinamallard’s first victory in six games was a deserved reward for their recent performances according to manager Harry McConkey. The Mallards had not tasted victory since November, but McConkey felt their recent displays had deserved more, and he was delighted they were finally able to reward the fans with a victory.

“We have put an awful lot into these last three games and to have achieved nothing from two of them was tough, but on Saturday I think justice was done,” he said.

“To get three points was great and it was lovely to see the smiles again at the end of the match and cheer people up knowing we had not only played well but we had got over the line with the victory.

“I do believe that the performances against Glenavon and the Welders had been very positive, and I was very proud of the players. They have kept working to get a result and turn this thing around, but it is an unforgiving league and you are only one referee’s mistake or one individual error away from getting crushed. You have to show your resilience and work hard for every point, and psychologically Saturday’s win was good for all of us.”

Key to the victory was a solidity in defence that has not been evident for much of the season. Prior to kick off the Mallards had conceded at least once in each of their last 15 games, but with new goalkeeper Jack Lemoignan between the sticks for the first time, the defence recorded their first clean sheet since September.

“I’m delighted for all of the team because I think we all defended well and worked hard to achieve that,” said McConkey.

“There is always so much to be done in front of the goalkeeper, but I think it was great for Jack Lemoignan’s first game. I thought he showed a lot of composure playing out from the back. He knew when to go long and when to play out from the back, and I thought he gave us a great platform and showed great composure.

“He showed all the qualities we brought him in for. It was a very confident performance, and we were delighted that he got a clean sheet after all that time without one. It gave everybody a lift.”

Ballinamallard dominated play for much of the 90 minutes, and could have had the game safely won by half time if they had taken the chances they created. In a season where individual errors have proved costly, the manager was quick to praise his players for a good all round team performance.

“We came out with great intent and in the first half we moved the ball so well,” he said.

“They pressed us hard, but this season I have asked us to take care of the ball better and I thought we did that and as a result we got Paddy (Ferry) in numerous times. Peter Maguire hit the underside of the bar as well, and we had numerous balls across the box.

“We were creating and I was pleased with the effort of the boys, young Peter Campbell up top, and Caolan (McAleer), and Paddy Ferry who I thought was excellent on the day apart from getting his goal.

“Wee Stevie Drumm came into the team because we wanted some fresh legs, and I thought he was excellent and he got man of the match.

“He plays with no fear, and he pops up in the box and he is very hard to pick up, so its good to see another good youngster coming through from the group.

“We felt the goal was always coming, but we had to defend very well and Arko (Aaron Arkinson) and Darragh (Byrne) were excellent in their defensive work, and out of possession we worked very hard.

“Mark Stafford and Peter Maguire were very solid and looked after their front line very well, because (Adam) Salley is good in the air, but we nullified him very well. They got one effort late on which we got away with, but we needed that bit of luck given we hadn’t been getting any up to now.”

Ballinamallard now face a trip to the Brandywell on Saturday to face Institute who sit just one place below the Mallards in the league table, and the boss is hoping they can carry their good recent form into another crucial game.

“That is a very important game for us,” said McConkey.

“They are around us in the league and they are a team that have been pulling off some great results, like beating Annagh 4-0. The last time we drew up there and it was a very tight battle.

“We will need to be good in both boxes, but if we move the ball and secure it as well as we did against Ards I feel we will give them a really good game.”

Ballinamallard are unlikely to have any new faces in the squad for the trip to the North West, but McConkey admits they are still on the lookout for a striker in the final week of the transfer window.

“We are still talking to a few clubs about players, but it needs to suit everybody and it is a very difficult time for players to move,” he said.

“We will continue in our search, but we know we already have plenty of quality within the club in Josh McIlwaine, Patrick Ferry, Peter Campbell and Caolan McAleer.”