With just two games to go, Down remain rooted firmly to the bottom of Senior One.

They could still produce the mother of all turnarounds if they were to beat both Cliftonville and Queens and condemn their derby rivals, Ballynahinch, to Senior Two, but on the evidence of their performances to date, that looks increasingly unlikely.

Ravaged by suspensions and cry-offs, bottom-of-the-table Down were always going to be up against it when they faced Civil Service at the Ards Leisure Centre last Friday night when they could have conceded a lot more goals.

Missing were the suspended Jeremy McCready and Alasdair Duff and the unavailable Mark Johnston and while Down battled bravely in parts, the harsh reality is that they simply haven't been good enough this season and with the drop to Senior Two inevitable, they must now start building for the future.

Paul Tate went close for Down in the 12th minute, but once Richard Shields scored with a penalty stroke two minutes later, it was always going to be a case of just how many Civil Service would score.

 Stuart Anderson, who was a thorn in Down's side all night, made it 2-0 in the 20th minute after Gavin Ringland gave away possession. Gareth Cundy then made it 3-0 in the 24th minute when he rifled a shot past stand-in 'keeper, Philip Brown who, incidentally, made a number of great saves on the night.

Cundy scored his second of the game from a well worked short corner in the 28th minute and completed his hat-trick seven minutes before the interval with another perfectly executed short corner strike to put his side 4-0 ahead. Andy Johnston then scored Civil Service's fifth goal with two minutes of the half remaining and at this stage Down were truly dead and buried.

The onslaught continued in the second half when the visitors scored another six goals to complete a thoroughly miserable night for Down. Although Chris Taylor went close for Down at the other end and Mark Elliott then looked set to score for the home side, both chances were missed.

David Nicholl put Civil Service 6-0 ahead and while Brown denied Johnston, Anderson was on hand to make it 7-0 and Thomas Priestly then made it 8-0 from his side's 14th short corner of the game in the 61st minute. But there was more misery to come for Down.

Ricky Shields made it 9-0 with David Rooney and Johnston completing the score to take Civil Service's tally to an incredible 11 on the night, condemning Down to their heaviest defeat of the season.

Down have two games left and they are both cup finals. On paper, they should be a match for both Cliftonville and Queens and the players know that if they muster one last effort and perform the way they can, they could take four points from the two games.

That would put the pressure on Ballynahinch who have four games left. The Langley Road side won't beat either Raphoe or North Down, but they could spring their own surprise as they also have to face Cliftonville and Queens.

It's going to be very nerve wracking over the next few weeks and by the end of April, Down or Ballynahinch will be relegated. Ballynahinch are currently in the box seat as they're three points ahead of Down. Realistically, another point would condemn Down to Senior Two.