Down were 2-0 ahead at the break and should have won this game in a canter.

But their determination to give the ball away, which cost them dear against Armagh three weeks ago, was in evidence again as they literally gifted the visitors two goals they did not deserve.

Down struggled to get into their stride in the early stages, but they did test the visitors' 'keeper on a number of occasions, through Ashley Gibson and Gavin Ringland.

At the back, Down were always comfortable in the first half, with full-backs Alasdair Duff and Chris Lennon driving forward at every opportunity to make the extra men in the middle of the park.

East Antrim managed just two shots on goal during the entire first half and just three after the break, such was the home side's dominance.

The opening 10 minutes were scrappy and while East Antrim forced three early short corners, they failed to get a shot in on goal.

Aaron Minnis and Down skipper, Jeremy McCready, were rarely troubled at the heart of the home defence, but Down struggled to find any rhythm in the middle of the park, despite the efforts of Raymond McClurg and Paul Neill.

Ringland almost gave his side the lead following a penalty corner in the 15th minute but his goal-bound shot was kicked clear by the 'keeper at this near post. Gibson then went close and Chris Taylor saw a snapshot flash past the wrong side of the post.

At the other end, East Antrim's skipper found himself through on goal but his shot was deflected wide by the home 'keeper.

Down took the lead through the hard-working Ringland in the 20th minute. The midfielder, who possesses one of the most ferocious shots in local hockey, found himself on the edge of the penalty area with plenty of time to pick his spot. He completely miss-hit his shot but, incredibly, it looped up into the air and through the 'keeper's legs for a bizarre goal.

The strike should have spurred the home side on to score a bagful more and when Gibson and Taylor combined for Down's second, East Antrim should have been dumped out of sight.

Gibson picked up a poor defensive clearance and his clever reverse ball allowed Taylor to pick his sport past the 'keeper. Ironically, the goal came after Down's 'keeper made a point-blank save at the other end and within seconds the ball was in the back of the East Antrim net.

Down expected the visitors to come at them in the opening stages of the second period and this they did. The home side did soak up the pressure, but two poor defensive clearances in the space of 10 minutes allowed the visitors back into a game they had no right to take anything from.

The home side can point to inconsistent umpiring decisions in the second period and a harsh sin-binning for Ringland who was fouled by two East Antrim players before he pushed a third out of his way as he raced towards goal.

Down created a number of chances after the break, but no one could get that elusive touch in front of goal to score a third killer goal.

This Saturday Down face Crossgar at Malone Park and need to pick up maximum points. They need to be up for the game from the first minute and more clinical in front of goal.