Down thirds maintained their bid for promotion to Junior 6 with an impressive performance at the Esplanade in Kilkeel last Saturday.

The locals were particularly impressive and once Stephen Strain had fired his side into a fifth minute lead, there was only going to be one winner.

Down, who are in action against Mossley fifths in the Strabane Cup this weekend, were rarely in trouble and any time the Kilkeel forwards did breach the visitors' defence, goalkeeper, Stephen Moffatt, was on hand to deal with the danger.

Strain's goal was all about opportunism after he had been set up by James Cunningham. With the 'keeper in his sights, Strain unleashed a superb strike to give his side a deserved lead.

With Gary Brown playing up front alongside Strain, the visitors had a very positive look about them. Stephen Cullum was also particularly impressive as were the experienced Trevor Lennon and Willie Price.

Kilkeel tried to force their way back into the game, but Cunningham's tackling rubbed off on those around him as Down made it difficult for the home side to play their normal passing game.

Cunningham was in the right place at the right time to put his side 2-0 ahead as the game headed for the interval.

The visitors were out to capitalise on their advantage in the second period and that's exactly what they did. Lennon, who had earlier played a pivotal role for Down seconds, fired the thirds into a 3-0 lead when he found himself unmarked inside the penalty area.

But the scoring still wasn't over as far as the visitors were concerned. They were playing with great confidence at this stage and Cunningham scored his second of the afternoon with 15 minutes to go.

He finished off a great team move when he shook off his marker, drew the 'keeper and fired the ball into the net.

Kilkeel scored a consolation in the closing stages, but it was too little too late. Down's impressive start to the game paved the way for an important win which keeps them among the pack of clubs chasing the two promotion spots up for grabs.