Down travelled to the Senior Two league Cliftonville with 10-men and were denied a share of the spoils by the home 'keeper who produced a wonder save to ensure his side bagged all three points.

The visitors were missing a host of regulars through suspension and unavailability, with Paul Tate, James Erskine, Sinclair White, Alasdair Duff, Jordan Aidey and Paul Neill absent. Of those drafted in at the last minute, Robert Carberry and Steven Fitzsimons were outstanding.

Down's goalkeeping skipper Jeremy McCready also played a key role and while he was peppered over the 70 minutes, he was only beaten once and, by his own admission, conceded a really soft goal.

The Malone Park outfit have had an up and down season and while Cliftonville must have been licking their lips when they saw so many Down regulars missing, the visitors produced a splendid rearguard action.

The first half was ostensibly about damage limitation, with the visitors getting men behind the ball to deny Cliftonville the opportunity to run in behind them.

Carberry and Fitzsimons, who have a wealth of experience between them, purred like vintage cars during the 70 minutes. While no longer enjoying the fountain of youth, they proved that you just canÕt beat experience.

While they may be a few yards slower, their brains were firing on all cylinders, making sure they were in the right place at the right time to thwart attacks.

Cliftonville scored the only goal-of-the-game 10 minutes before the interval and while the home side may have thought the floodgates would open in the second half, the anticipate avalanche of goals never came.

Liam Kearney and Philip Brown were also in top form for the visitors and with 15 minutes to go Down thought they were about to score a dramatic equaliser.

Kearney, who never stopped running all afternoon, powered his way down the right and crossed for Jordan Wade whose shot had 'goal' written all over it, but the Cliftonville 'keeper dived to his right to somehow push the ball around the post.

This Saturday Down face Parkview at home and will be hoping for a morale-boosting win as the season draws to a conclusion.