BALLINAMALLARD United fans won’t need reminding of the last time they faced Portadown in a Danske Bank Premiership game!
In a nutshell it was nothing short of an absolute disaster, a defensive horror show all of the ‘Mallards own making.
The final scoreline at Shamrock Park on that fateful day was 3-0 with all three goals gift-wrapped for one of the most potent attacks in the league.
That performance a little over six weeks ago represented one of the low points of the Mallards’ season.
Since then the Ferney Park men have turned something of a corner with back-to-back victories against Coleraine and Dungannon Swifts lifting them three points clear of the relegation zone.
A disappointing 3-2 defeat to Cliftonville on Saturday kerbed the sense of renewed optimism to some extent but the Fermanagh men are nonetheless relishing the visit of the Ports this weekend (Kick-off 3pm).
Ronnie McFall’s visitors will present another formidable challenge for Whitey Anderson’s charges but defender Liam McMenamin is confident the Mallards can produce a positive result.
“We certainly didn’t do ourselves any favours the last time we played Portadown. We conceded some really soft goals” admitted the Strabane man.
“I think in games gone by against the likes of Cliftonville, Portadown and Linfield we have been guilty of showing them too much respect.
“On Saturday past we went into the Cliftonville game in good form and showing no fear and we nearly produced a result. It’s one that got away
“Unfortunately we ended up having nothing to show for the performance but we can take real confidence and pride from it.
“Portadown will arrive on Saturday knowing they’ll be facing a different Ballinamallard team.
“From the cup game against Institute we haven’t looked back. We are again the Ballinamallard team of old, well-organised and hard to beat.
“We have added players who can hurt teams on the counter attack. We have played to those strengths recently and its paid off. And we have stopped conceding. Before Saturday we had three clean sheets. That had given a confidence and platform going forward.”
Out of neccessity more than anything else Anderson moved the versatile McMenamin from the right-back position to partner skipper Mark Stafford in the centre of the defence. That switch has coincided with three victories in four outings and perhaps more importantly from the defender’s perspective those hat-trick of shut-outs.
The Strabane man admitted he’s revelling in the partnership with Stafford.
“Nearly every team I have signed for I started out at right-back and ended up playing centre-back.
“I’m still not sure what my best postion is but I do enjoy playing centre-back. I’m a completely different defender compared to Stafford. He’ll go through a brick wall.
“We have developed a good understanding and have a good relationship going.
“Stafford will compete for everything whereas I like to get on the ball a wee bit more. We compliment each other very well.
“We had so many injuries ahead of the Institute game that I had to play in there. I’m certainly not complaining .The main thing is I’m playing and really enjoying it.
“I think Portadown will know they’ll be playing a different Ballinamallard animal come Saturday.”
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