Ballinamallard’s defeat to Dungannon Swifts in the Boxing Day derby has not dented Gavin Dykes’ belief that the club will survive relegation. The narrow 1-0 defeat leaves the Mallards with just one win in 21 league matches and they sit five points adrift of Carrick Rangers at the foot of the table, who they face on Friday night. It is ten games since their last victory, which came against Carrick, but the manager remains confident they will get themselves out of trouble.
“Our target is to try to get Carrick and we are five points behind them so there is not a lot in it,” said Gavin. “We play them on Friday night and it’s a massive game. We all know how important it is that we go there and get something. I honestly believe at the end of the season we will be okay. I really believe that. I’m not just saying that for the sake of saying it or because people want me to say it. I honestly believe it. I’ve been in worse holes than this as a manager. With Derry on the last game of the season we were going down and Waterford hit two posts and the ball ran across the line and came out. Football is that way. We will be okay. We just need to get a few people in to help the boys that are here.”
The first of those recent additions was centre back Ryan O’Reilly who had an impressive home debut against Dungannon, and Dykes revealed he has also signed attacker Sean Noble, with the hope that three more will be added to the squad in January.
“I have brought O’Reilly in and I’ve signed Sean Noble. He is a Dublin lad who was at Carrick last season and has played for Bray. He can play wide right and centre forward and he has a bit about him. I think he will be a good addition for us. We need goal scorers and he scored a few goals, he’s aggressive, he’s big, he’s quite quick and hopefully he can come in and bring a bit of quality to it” he revealed. 
“We’ve agreed terms with two other players as well but I’m not going to say too much before I have their names on paper, and I’m hoping to bring one more in as well. The board have worked very hard to get some money together so that we can attract players in here, and I believe if we can get that it will change. We can get a bit of a run going if we keep doing what we did against Dungannon.”
For long spells Ballinamallard matched Dungannon in their clash at Ferney Park, only to concede with ten minutes remaining. “There wasn’t a lot in it and I thought we deserved something out of it,” said Gavin. “Especially in the second half I thought we were a wee bit better, but we got done with a goal. It sums up our season. A centre half rambles up the pitch and arrives in the box and with no one near him he scores. 
“I’m gutted for the people here and I’m gutted for the players. I can’t ask much more of them. The dressing room is devastated. I thought we were pretty good, but we have to push on. It’s important that the fans walk out of the gate at least feeling that we have put a lot of heart into it. I couldn’t fault anybody for effort this time. I have to stay positive otherwise it will drive me around the twist. 
“It’s been a very tough year. I didn’t expect us to be where we are and I can’t wait to see 2018.”