A seven goal thriller this Senior One encounter may have been, but defeat almost certainly ends any hope Down had of remaining in the league.

They did lead 2-1 at one stage in the first half and there was a lot of optimism that they could have hung on to take at least a point from the game, but they ended up losing and while relegation rivals Cliftonville and Ballynahinch both lost, Down know they need more than a miracle to stay up.

They have four games to play and must now defeat Newry and Cliftonville to give themselves even an outside chance of escaping the drop to a league where the standard has continued to decline in recent seasons.

Down, who were missing Adam McKee, Paul Neill and James Erskine, knew if they could contend with Portadown's reliance on short corner set plays, they would have a chance. While the home side are not one dimensional, a lot of their play is focused on winning short corners to allow the prolific Kenny Whyte a shot on goal.

The visitors travelled to Edenvilla with a game plan, but it went out the window in the first minute when the home side was awarded a penalty corner. Whyte stepped forward menacingly for the set play and when the ball came out to him, his drag flick was right on target, but 'keeper, Mark Johnston, got his glove to the ball, but he deflected it on to skipper Jeremy McCready's body and the umpire awarded a penalty stroke. Up stepped Geoff Edgar to make it 1-0.

Earlier in the season, Down would have found it hard to come back from such a set back. Despite their league position, they are a lot tougher and more street wise and roared right back into contention to level things up at 1-1 in the 11th minute.

Down midfielder, Sinclair White, proved to the Portadown supporters that there was more than one man with his surname who is pretty tasty when it comes to penalty corners. Paul Tate's push out was controlled in an instant and while White's shot struck a Portadown defender on its way towards goal, there was so much pace on the ball that it crossed the line.

The goal injected new life into the visitors and Portadown were on the back foot at this stage. Tate and James Cunningham were getting a grip in the middle of the park and took a 2-1 lead in the 14th minute.

 Clever thinking by McCready saw him pick out Tate with a quick free. He headed towards goal flanked by Tate and Cunningham with Portadown defenders back-pedalling. Tate slipped the ball to Elliott who cleverly drew the 'keeper off his line and while he could have scored himself, he unselfishly squared for Tate to score.

With three minutes until the interval, Down were keen to hold on, but when the umpires signalled the end of the opening 35 minutes, the visitors were 3-2 behind.

Portadown drew level when, not for the first time this season, Down failed to make tackles when it mattered most. Portadown's Edgar slipped his marker and once inside the penalty area produced a superb undercut shot which saw the ball flash past Johnston into the net. There was simply nothing the Down 'keeper could do about it.

Going in level at the break would not have been a disaster for Down, but with less than a minute to go, Portadown scored again to make it 3-2. Three home forwards headed for goal faced by just McCready and it was no surprise when the ball was put into the net by Jonathan McCracken after Down's 'keeper was left with no option other than to attack the ball and try and clear it if he could.

Down were keen to get back on level terms in the second period and Tate almost produced the goods within minutes of the restart when he was picked out by White at the back post. At the other end, Johnston produced a few good saves and for a time, play became bogged down in the middle of the park.

Portadown went 4-2 ahead with nine minutes to go through Chris Nugent, but Down were upset the umpire had failed to spot a home player kick the ball into the Down penalty area. Play was waved on and Johnston was beaten from point-blank range.

With minutes to go, Down made it 4-3 following a short corner. While Chris Taylor's initial shot was saved, the rebound went straight back to the midfielder who rifled it into the net.

Had it not been for the home side's controversial fourth goal, Down feel they could have got a point out of this game which would have taken them that little bit closer to neighbours Ballynahinch, who sit just about them in the table.

This Friday night, it's literally win or bust for Down. A win over Newry could put pressure on Cliftonville and Ballynahinch and then you just never know. The locals have nothing to lose; they should attack from the off and throw everything they have at Newry.