Down’s senior side is staring relegation in the face after yet another Senior One defeat.

The locals need a miracle if they are to stay up, but with each passing weekend, their future in a league they only secured promotion to last season is looking increasingly bleak.

They have an outside chance of staying up, but they need fellow strugglers Cliftonville to start dropping points and then beat them in a head-to-head next month which looks like deciding who will stay up.

Down face Portadown this Saturday and will be boosted by the fact that Cliftonville beat them two weeks ago. The locals also still have to face Newry.

Each game is now a cup final and Down know that if they slip up against Portadown and Newry, their season is effectively over.

Last Friday night, in atrocious weather conditions at the Ards Leisure Centre, Down entertained derby rivals North Down in a game that was always going to be dominated by one question. How many would the visitors score?

Down were dealt a blow before the game when they lost goalkeeper, Mark Johnston, due to illness, but his deputy performed heroics. Philip Brown, who occasionally puts the pads and kickers on and who is more noted for his exploits as a striker, took over between the posts and played brilliantly.

North Down scored six goals in the end, but it could have been a lot more, had it not been for Brown, who produced a stick save from a short corner which was right out of the top drawer.

The visitors took an early lead through Chris Speers following a short corner and Richard Willis was on hand for a tap-in after nine minutes when the Down defence failed to pick him up. At the other end, the home side forced a number of penalty corners, but failed to get a telling shot in on goal.

In fact, the North Down 'keeper, Andrew Caldwell, who was a replacement for Ulster keeper, Andy Coats, didn't have one save to make the entire night.

Down were keen to try and stamp their authority on the game, but they were never allowed to and once North Down had scored those two early goals, it was sadly all about how many more they would get before the final whistle.

There was no respite for the home side in the second half as North Down upped the tempo and their superior skill and fitness levels were decisive factors. Speers got his second of the game in the 38th minute when his miss-hit reverse stick shot crawled into the net with the Down defence expecting a blockbusting shot to come their way.

Mark Forrest beat Brown to make it 4-0 a minute later and while Down tried to muster a response, they were simply overpowered by a youthful North Down side.

Ross Linter made it 5-0 in the 58th minute and with just five minutes to go, Andy Forrest completed the scoring when he fired past Brown to seal a comprehensive win which almost certainly condemns Down to Senior Two next season.

The home side's misery was compounded in the closing stages when midfielder, Paul Tate, had to be taken to hospital with a nasty eye injury after he was injured in a freak accident when a ball reared up and struck him.

Down won't throw in the towel until its mathematically impossible to stay up. Portadown and Newry are games they simply must win and Cliftonville and Ballynahinch must keep slipping up. Whether that's likely to happen is simply impossible to tell given the sometimes unpredictability of Senior One.