Not for the first time this season Down surrendered a two-goal cushion in a crucial league game they should have taken something from.

Earlier in the season they were leading Cliftonville 6-4 in the closing stages, only to lose 6-7 and last weekend Down led the Belfast side 2-0 before being defeated 4-3.

In two games this season, Down and Cliftonville have shared an incredible 20 goals and while defeated again last Saturday, Down can take heart from their performance.

If they can produce the same commitment in their two up and coming games against Queen's and their remaining encounter against Portadown, they could escape the drop.

Down have been leaking goals, but unlike their previous time in Senior One, they have been scoring a lot more and they must bear this in mind during the season run-in. Alasdair Duff was magnificent for the locals last weekend and if the defence can stop leaking goals, they have a realistic chance of avoiding the drop to Senior Two.

Cliftonville dangerman, Julian Stevenson, was man-marked by Gavin Ringland as Down were the better side early on with Adam McKee going close after good work by Richard Owens. At the other end, Mark Johnston was again in top form denying Stephen McMillan twice in quick succession.

Mark Elliott should have put his side ahead in the 19th minute after a scintillating 30-yard Chris Lennon pass picked out McKee who set up Marco for a shooting chance. Six minutes later Johnston produced another short corner save with Elliott again going close at the other end.

Down's pressure was going to tell and that man Elliott fired his side into the lead six minutes before the break after a sweeping move involving Lennon, Owens and Sinclair White, with the latter almost making it 2-0 with just 60 seconds of the half remaining.

Two minutes after the restart the visitors doubled their advantage when Owens and Chris Taylor exchanged passes for the former to finish with great aplomb. A minute later, Duff produced a brilliant goal-line clearance to deny Stevenson.

Five minutes after the restart Newry made it 2-1 when Neil Hodge scored with a short corner strike and then Johnston produced three saves in a split second before the ball rebounded from his third save to David Hurley who scored to make it 2-2.

McMillan scored with 20 minutes to go to give his side the lead for the first time in the game (3-2) before Stevenson produced a classy finish to make it 4-2 with six minutes to go.

But back came Down with Taylor creating an opening for Elliott with just three minutes to go and the striker made no mistake to leave his side just one goal away from securing a point.

Try as they did, the locals once again tasted defeat despite leading 2-0 at one stage. It's crucial the players remain focussed and concentrate their efforts on the must-win double header against Queen's and the forthcoming clash against Portadown.