Down thirds were forced to travel to Ballymena last Saturday with just nine men.

But they did put in a gutsy performance and while they conceded two goals in each half, Down created a number of chances of their own in this Junior 7 clash.

Youngsters Philip Moreland and Stephen Cullum again played well, while the experienced Willie Price did his best in defence to stem a number of Ballymena attacks.

It was always going to be an uphill struggle for Down, but they battled bravely on the synthetic surface and, with a bit of luck, could have found the back of the net.

Ballymena, who are one of the promotion favourites alongside Saintfield seconds, played well, with some of their play worthy of a higher league. To their credit, Down refused to throw in the towel, but after conceding a second goal they knew things were only going to get harder.

Moreland and Cullum did go close, but two goals in the second half killed off even if the remotest possibility of a Down comeback.

Beaten, but not disgraced, the locals will be keen to bounce back to winning ways this weekend to get their own promotion hopes back on track.