Ballinamallard manager Harry McConkey admitted he was shocked at his side’s performance as their four game winning run in the league came to an end with a tame defeat away to Ballyclare. 
“It was a shocker,” acknowledged the manager. “We gave them all the respect they deserved and we prepared really well for what we know is always a difficult ground for us to go to, but I did feel if we could play anything like the way we had the week before then we would have a great chance of a result there. The week before I thought we had set a really good standard for ourselves and I wanted the boys to repeat that but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. 
 “To go into a game and perform like that after playing seven days ago and playing so well, the only word for me at the time was shocked. The players themselves were very frustrated too.”
Ballinamallard had put five goals past Ballyclare in the corresponding fixture at Ferney Park in August, but there was little sign of a similar goal threat to excite the travelling fans. 
“I really felt for the supporters,” said Harry. “We had great support at the PSNI game in Belfast last week and after such an entertaining performance the Ferney faithful travelled again in numbers to Ballyclare naturally expecting another top drawer game from us. Sadly it was the polar opposite and it was them I felt most sorry for in the long journey home. I hope we can give them more to cheer about this weekend!”
Harry admitted the conditions were not helpful but was disappointed in how they adapted. 
“The pitch looked good from the sidelines but there were a lot of hidden bobbles you weren’t expecting. It was largely a midfield battle and neither goal was threatened too often because teams were misplacing passes and not controlling the ball as well as they should. That’s is not to be making any excuses about the result, but purely as a spectacle for supporters it did spoil it. We never got into our flow. We found ourselves getting isolated from Ryan up top. The wide players tended to drop deeper than last week and the midfielders didn’t make the raiding runs they were doing the week before. I thought we had defended quite well but when playing out we were a little bit hesitant and predictable and as a result they snapped us in the middle of the field and they were winning battles we normally would be good at.”
On a day of surprise results in the Championship, Ballinamallard held on to their third place in the table as three of the top four failed to record victories. “It’s another opportunity that we have missed,” said Harry. “It’s the greatest frustration of all when you see that Portadown have slipped up and Dundela have slipped up, that we didn’t capitalise on that. The positives are that the way the other results went, at least the other teams haven’t got away from us. We are not in a mood for panicking. We are just into the second round of matches and there is a lot of football to be played. We were hoping to kick on and keep momentum going because I believe a team that can do that in this league will certainly be there challenging. If you are going to lose one in four or one in three its probably not going to be enough, and I don’t want us to be that team. I want us to be contenders and not pretenders.”
Ballinamallard’s next challenge is the visit of Harland and Wolff Welders. The Belfast side are just one spot off the bottom of the table but recorded a surprise victory over table topping Portadown on Saturday and will come to Ferney Park with a spring in their step. 
“They were having a tough time, but that result will give Colin McIlwaine’s team a lot of self belief,” said Harry. “He has come in along with George O’Boyle and brought in some new players that have taken time to settle, but they have brought Matthew Ferguson in and since he has come back he has been appearing on the scoresheet and is a real threat. Last year we managed to turn them over at home, but there were parts of that game where we really had to dig in against them. They have a good strong spine to their team and if you let them play or stand off them then they will hurt you. In both boxes we always find them a real challenge because they are very strong in the air and that will be something we will need to address.”