Belfast Telegraph

Ballinamallard keen to halt Loughgall's flying start as Portadown lurk

 

On the up: Harry McConkey is aiming for promotion
On the up: Harry McConkey is aiming for promotion

By Steven Beacom

Ballinamallard United will be the latest side to try and end Loughgall's unbeaten start to the season in the Championship.

What the Lakeview Park club have achieved early on in the Irish League's second tier has been outstanding, with boss Dean Smith and his players deserving immense credit having shot to the top of the table with five wins and two draws in their seven games to date.

They are also the highest scorers in the division with 19 and will fancy adding to that at home to Harry McConkey's Mallards, who are seven points behind in fourth.

Smith has always been a manager whose teams know where the net is. McConkey would be the first to acknowledge his opposite number's efforts, but that won't stop the Ballinamallard supremo doing all he can to collect maximum points after suffering a disappointing loss at home to Newry City last weekend.

The Ferney Park club, having reached the Irish Cup final last term, have targeted promotion to the top flight and feel the personnel is there to have a real go at it.

They may have to beat Portadown to the punch to finish in top spot.

Matthew Tipton's side have been showing fine form of late in the league and will look to continue that at home to mid-table Queen's.

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Tipton will not be bothered about exiting the Mid-Ulster Cup in midweek, losing 6-1 to Annagh United, with the Championship his only priority this term.

The Ports are one point behind neighbours Loughgall and have won their last four games in the league.

Third placed Dundela host H&W Welders, who should be buoyed by their win over Premiership Carrick Rangers in the County Antrim Shield on Tuesday.

Warren Feeney's Ards will be looking to enjoy a strong run over the next couple of months and will be odds on to earn a home win over unpredictable Ballyclare, Newry City take on Dergview at the Showgrounds and bottom side Knockbreda will aim to deliver their second Championship victory of the season away to PSNI.

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