A BALLINAMALLARD clean sheet brought to an end Dundela’s run of five straight league victories, but despite the point extending the Mallard’s unbeaten run to seven league games, manager Tommy Canning feels it was two points dropped in a game they could have won.

The Mallards had a succession of chances against the league leaders but failed to find the back of the net as they missed their chance to record a fourth straight victory.

“It feels like it was two points that maybe got away from us,” admitted Canning. “The feeling afterwards from the players themselves was that if we had been a bit more clinical and been a wee bit more composed in the final third then we possibly could have taken the three points.

“You also have to remember they had a couple of very good opportunities.

“They had a header from close range that was directed straight at Jack and then they hit the crossbar late on. Maybe a draw was a fair result, but I do think if we had been a bit more clinical and composed then we could have taken the three points.”

Despite not securing the win, the manager was once again complimentary about the efforts of his players.

“The performance levels were good,” he said. “I thought we were a bit slow in getting started, and maybe that was partly to do with Dundela coming at us, but once we got a foothold in the game and got settled we were very good. I thought we were very competitive, and our play was good. We kept the ball well and created a number of really good chances both halves. I was happy with the performance levels.”

Next up for the Mallards are Newington, and the Ducks go into the Ferney Park clash knowing a win would lift them above their opponents in the league table.

Victory at Inver Park against Newington six weeks ago kick-started Ballinamallard’s current winning run, and key in that revival has been the performance of the central defensive partnership of Richie Johnston and Peter Maguire.

The team have only conceded two goals in their last five games, but Maguire will have a different centre-back partner for Saturday’s game with the ex-Enniskillen Rangers defender set to serve a suspension after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season last weekend.

“Our defence has been a real bedrock for the run that we have been on,” acknowledged Canning.

“It has given us a real platform to go on and win games, but we need to be scoring at the other end to take some of that responsibility and pressure off the boys at the back. We will lose Johnston this week because of his suspension. He has been an integral part of our defence in the last five or six games, but it is an opportunity for someone like Ben McCann to come in and keep that run going and keep that scoring down. If we can do that then we will give ourselves every opportunity in games.”

Canning will welcome winger Jamie Dunne back into the squad for Saturday’s match, and he is hopeful that Darragh Byrne will also have shaken off an ankle problem.

“Newington will give us a very different challenge to Dundela, but it won’t be any easier,” he said. “They went on a fabulous run at the start of the year and then the wheels came off a little bit and they lost five in a row, one of those to ourselves, but they seemed to have picked up a bit again.

“They are a team that love to play on the counter attack, and they are very good at it. They have good legs and plenty of energy and work rate and they love that transition game, so it will be a different challenge completely.

“They have no problems scoring goals although they do concede goals as well. If we can keep another clean sheet we will get chances. We will just have to make sure our homework is done and we are ready for them.”