Ballinamallard 1 Ards 0: Ballinamallard United moved 11 points clear of Ards at the foot of the Danske Bank Premiership after Jason McCartney's 41st minute penalty gave Whitey Anderson's side all three points at Ferney Park.
The Mallards had picked up only two points from their last 10 league games, but McCartney's converted spot kick was to prove decisive and will have given them a massive lift for the run in.
Both sides took a long time to settle into the contest and although there was no shortage of endeavour, there was little in the way of flowing football in this relegation battle.
The contest finally sparked into life in the final five minutes of the half with action at both ends.
Ards went close to taking the lead in the 40th minute when Ross Arthurs' low drive from 20 yards hit the base of the post, but within a minute the visitors were to find themselves behind.
Duwayne McManus was upended in the box by Conor Downey and referee Raymond Crangle pointed to the spot.
McCartney stepped up to thump the penalty into the bottom corner past Alan Blayney.
The Mallards almost doubled their advantage four minutes later when the ball broke to Ryan Campbell from a McCartney corner, but his drive flew over the bar.
Ards did enjoy a good spell at the start of the second half and Mallards goalkeeper Fergal Murphy had to be alert to save a Downey effort from 25 yards.
Ballinamallard captain Mark Stafford then made an important block on Mark McClelland as he looked to get in on the left hand side of the box, while at the other end both substitute Richard Lecky and McManus both fired over from the edge of the box.
Ards substitute Corey Davidson had a gilt edged chance to level things four minutes into added on time after Sean Cleary's brilliant through ball sent William Faulkner through.
He rolled the ball to Davison, but with the goal at his mercy he fired into the side-netting much to the relief of the home side as they held on for a crucial win that puts some daylight between themselves and Ards at the foot of the table.
Ballinamallard United: Murphy, Stafford, Kee, Hutchinson, Crawford (Lecky 62mins), McCartney, Feeney, McManus, Campbell (Courtney 83mins), Martin, Crilly. Subs: Beacom, Currie, Courtney, Hill
Ards: Blayney, Gibson, Armstrong, Cully, Rodgers, Faulkner, Downey (Cleary 71mins), Arthurs (Davidson 80mins), Mitchell, McClelland, McDowell (Dougan 58mins)
Referee: Raymond Crangle (Belfast).