Senior One league leaders Civil Service were given a real fright at Stormont last Saturday.

Second from bottom Down took the lead in the fifth minute and should have led 2-0 moments later as their new policy of going on the attack worked a treat.

The visitors, who were missing Chris Taylor, went into the game intent on making life difficult for the home side and that's exactly what happened in the early stages. Down took the lead in the fifth minute from a well-worked short corner move.

The ball came out to Gavin Ringland who stopped it for Sinclair White. With defenders expecting him to shoot, he slipped it back to Paul Tate and the near post and he scored.

Five minutes later Down should have went 2-0 ahead when Ringland was put through by Tate with just the 'keeper to beat but just as he was about to pull the trigger, a defender got back to clear the danger. Ringland was in the thick of the action moments later but he opted to shoot when Tate and Chris Lennon were better placed and the chance was gone.

Civil Service, having weathered the storm, got back on level terms in the 26th minute following a long corner. Stuart Anderson got the final touch when his shot bobbled into the net after it had been worked to the back post area.

The home side upped the tempo at this stage, but Down were holding on, with skipper Jeremy McCready, Alasdair Duff, Lennon and James Erskine keeping things tight at the back.

Civil Service went 2-1 ahead when a rising shot from outside the circle hit the back of David Nicholl's stick as he was trying to jump out of the way and the ball ricocheted into the net past Mark Johnston who could do nothing about it.

And with just two minutes until the interval, they home side went 3-1 ahead when Anderson scored his second of the afternoon to leave Civil Service with a flattering advantage.

Down's half-time team talk was to keep pressing in the second period, but within seven minutes of the restart Civil Service went 4-1 ahead when Nicholl had an easy tap in when the visitors were caught napping in their own penalty area.

At the other end, White again went close with two short corner strikes, one of which struck the 'keeper on the helmet before rebounding to safety and away from danger. Lennon, who was struck on the head with a stick, was then yellow carded for retaliating, while his opponent was only shown a green card.

With the visitors reduced to 10 men, they should have made it 4-2. This time Ringland did not realise he had as much time as he had and while his fly-hit effort flew wide, he had time to control the ball before picking his spot. As so often happens, the home side went up the other end and made it 5-1 when Anderson scored again. Johnston made a great save from a short corner, but cruelly for him the ball broke to the teenager who fired it into the net.

Down pulled another goal back when White illustrated his prowess at short corners when he drilled the ball into the net and the goal gave his side another lift. They were then awarded a penalty stroke when Ferguson's shot was illegally stopped by a defender, but from the set piece, Ferguson uncharacteristically hit his shot straight at the 'keeper.

However, Down didn't have to wait long until they made it 5-3. Mark Elliott, who led the line well, intercepted a pass and drove towards the penalty area where he picked out the impressive Adam McKee who drilled the ball into the net for a brilliant strike.

McCready had to be alert at the other end when he took two goal-bound shots off the line and then Duff performed heroics when he did the same to deny Nicholl his hat-trick. In the closing stages, the home side scored a sixth goal, but Down were far from disappointed at the end.

Their new tactic of attacking teams and allowing their opponents to have the ball in their own half for as much as they want is starting to pay off. They have nine games left and as little as two wins could be enough to keep them in the league. They still have to face fellow strugglers Ballynahinch, South Antrim and Cliftonville and so much now depends on these clashes.