Ballinamallard manager Harry McConkey (©INPHO/Brian Little)

MALLARDS SECURE TOP SIX SPOT

Ballinamallard United clinched a post-split top six spot with victory over fellow contenders Ballyclare Comrades at Ferney Park.

The Mallards needed to win to stand any chance of making the cut and duly got off to a great start when, as early as the third minute, Nathan Cashel nipped in ahead of keeper Jack Hazard to turn Jason McCartney's header into the net.

Robbie Hume then came close to adding a second soon after when he got on the end of a Ross Taheny through ball but Hazard did well to save one-on-one while, at the other end, Mallards keeper John Connolly got down low to his right to deny Gary Brown.

Ballyclare had another chance later in the first half but Jamie Willighan could only volley into the side netting before, not long after, Adam Gray sent a half chance over from ten yards.

After the break Hazard was alert to turn the ball out from a Ryan Campbell effort just before the hour with another shot getting turned onto the post after a defender had made the block.

With time running out Ballyclare exerted some pressure on the home defence but the Mallards rearguard held firm to claim the points.

Ballinamallard United: Connolly, Taheny, Smyth, Clarke, Arkinson, Campbell, McCartney, Hume, Cashel, McCann, O'Reilly subs Glynn (not used), Kelly (not used), McIlwaine (replaced Hume 85), Henderson (replaced Cashel 53), McBrien (replaced Campbell 71)

Ballyclare Comrades: Hazard, Woods, Crane, McIlveen, Wright, Kane, Gray, Willighan, Brown, Youle, Donnelly subs McQuitty (not used), Dobbin (not used), Tully (replaced Brown 79), Robinson (replaced Woods 71), Kirk (not used)

Referee: Declan Hassan