Down produced their best performance of the season to blow away Portrush in this Senior Two tie last weekend.

The visitors scored five goals, but could easily have reached double figures if they had been more clinical in front of goal.

Down literally handed the home side three goals in the first half, but they showed their true character by fighting back to win in convincing fashion and were worthy of maximum points.

The locals raised their game when it mattered most and the excellent team spirit was at the heart of a stirring performance which will send out a clear message to their title challengers.

Every Down goal had class written all over it. Intricate passing, off-the-ball running, darting runs into the danger area and phenomenal shooting were a feature of all the goals.

Chris Taylor bagged a brace, while, Gavin Ringland, Ashley Gibson and James Cunningham were the other marksmen on target on a day when the ball kept hitting the Portrush 'keeper, rather than him making saves.

Down fell behind as early as the second minute from a short corner they felt should not have been awarded, but three minutes later they had forced themselves back into the game with a brilliant goal.

Chris Lennon went on a mazy run and exchanged passes outside the penalty area with Ringland before passing the ball back to him. Ringland took the pass in his stride and rifled an unstoppable shot past the 'keeper.

The visitors were playing well at this stage. With Raymond McClurg playing the anchor role in the middle of the park, Ringland, Taylor and Stephen Ferguson were able to drive forward at will.

Gibson's goal was well-worked and deceived the Portrush defenders and the home 'keeper. With his back to goal, Gibson swivelled on a six pence before driving the ball into the far corner of the net.

Down should have went on to score more, but a poor defensive clearance found Mervyn McMeekin and his pass picked out a colleague who scored with ease.

To their credit, Down raised their game, but incredibly found themselves 3-2 in arrears after a controversial umpiring decision.

Aaron Minnis was wrongly penalised for shielding the ball but when the whistle went, everyone thought the home side had been awarded a free. Down skipper, Jeremy McCready, who produced another top drawer performance, stepped forward to take the free hit. But when the umpire pointed the other way, a quick pass found three Portrush players with just Down's 'keeper in front of them. Again McMeekin picked out a colleague who scored.

Down's half-time team talk was simple: Maintain the consistency and they would not only equalise, but go on to win the game.

Taylor, who has been brilliantly outstanding in recent weeks, was the man at the heart of Down's second half renaissance. He drew the side's level with a perfectly executed reverse stick shot which gave the 'keeper no chance.

Down were now in the driving seat and the tactic of man-marking Ronnie Smyth worked superbly, nullifying the threat of the Portrush sweeper.

At the other end, Down's 'keeper made a crucial save on the top of the penalty area to deny Smyth and two minutes later, the visitors were back in the lead for only the second time in the game with a text book goal.

McCready fed Gibson who laid the ball off to McClurg. He carried it forward and spotting a surging run by Lennon, picked him out with a precision pass. The full-back headed the edge of the penalty area and his cross-cum-shot fell kindly to James Cunningham at the back post and his work rate was rewarded with a richly deserved goal.

The Portrush heads dropped and Down were hungry for more and their fifth goal came with just five minutes remaining. Again that man Taylor scored it. McCready and Gibson were involved in a clever short corner routine and when the ball fell to Taylor who drag-flicked it into the roof of the net.

Down had heroes all over the park and everyone played their part in a tremendous team performance. John Hewitt never put a foot wrong at full back, while Cunningham and Gibson led the line superbly.

This weekend Down face Senior Two league leaders, Armagh, at Malone Park and will be keen to repeat their current form.