Ballinamallard’s recent good form continued with a 2-0 victory over Queens University, making it one defeat in their last eight league games.

The victory lifts them into the top three in the Championship table but manager Harry McConkey admitted that they were not at their best in the Ferney Park clash.

“We are much better than we showed on Saturday,” he said.

“We have had the other side where we have played well and lost so we will clearly accept it. A win is a win and you want to keep the momentum going. We got the early goal which is what we were hoping for and we wanted to push on from that. We thought that might damage their confidence with the recent results they had been having, but we knew this was a team coming with no pressure and players with quality about them. We negated them quite well but when we got the ball we didn’t hurt them enough and didn’t cause them enough problems.”

Although the manager was looking for more from his players, he was also able to see the positives in a match that remained on a knife edge until John Edgar’s late goal eased the tension.

“We must take some positivity out of the game,” he said. “On reflection, we were creating chances. Alongside the two goals we did get we also had four or five very good chances. Nathan Cashel had a great chance, Chris Kelly had one past the post, their keeper made a great save from Ryan O’Reilly and Ross Taheny had a point blank header that he didn’t get enough on. If we had taken our chances we would have been clear but the boys never allow me to enjoy it too much.

“We are always in a situation where I feel we should have put the game to bed, but we haven’t and we have to go right to the very end. In fairness to them that is what they did do. When they weren’t playing very well they did dig in.

“This bunch of players are very honest and hardworking and they want to get better. We were trying to stop them playing out and be dominant in our own box and some days it just doesn’t happen. When it doesn’t happen and you still come out on the right side of the result, it is very pleasing.”

Key to the Mallards’ good run has been a solid defence.

They have only conceded two goals in their last six league games, and only six so far for the season.

“It is a very healthy record,” acknowledged Harry. “When you want to progress in the league it is very important to get things right from the back out and I think we are always looking to monitor the progress of the team, and when you look at the table this time last year there clearly is an improvement and that is all I ask for. Each game you want to try and build on that.”

At the heart of that defensive record has been John Connolly, who made his 50th appearance for the Mallards on Saturday.

The goalkeeper has had a big influence since his arrival, and the manager has been delighted with what he has brought to the squad.

“John is fundamental to how we want to play. At half time I thought I thought he was the one player showing his consistency. There was a lot of players in the first half that could have been disappointed with their performances but he can hold his head high. He never slips below his level. He prepares and performs so consistently and that is why he is still enjoying his game at his age, he is a wonderful role model for the younger players at our club,” he stated.

After the game on Saturday the players were able to celebrate their success of last season with a team night out at sponsors Pats Bar and Restaurant, and the team will be hoping they can scale similar heights this season. That challenge continues with an away trip to PSNI on Saturday. Ballinamallard will go into the game as favourites to add to their recent run of victories, but Harry is expecting a tough challenge. “

“They are a team who will have done their homework on us,” he said. “Sammy McFadden will have his lads up for it. It will be a decent pitch at the Dub and we know we will be playing a very good team, but we have had some very good performances of late on our own good surface and we will not be frightened of the challenge, but it is a difficult challenge.”

Captain Richard Clarke is making good progress in his recovery from his recent shoulder injury but is expected to be on the side lines for another two weeks.

Lee Frazer also underwent a shoulder operation and is hoping for a quick return, but there are no new injury doubts following the win over Queens.