Down’s bid for Linden Cup glory is off to the worst possible start.

Against new-boys Campbellians at Malone Park last Saturday, Down played in fits and starts and never really got any rhythm going.

Last year, Down were unbeaten at home in the league and cup and ended up with the meanest defence in Senior Two. They will be hoping last weekend's performance was nothing more than an opening day blip and things will get better.

Two scrappy goals and an inability to kill off the opposition at the other end proved to be the home side's downfall in the end.

Campbellians look a useful outfit and will no doubt prove to be even tougher opponents on the synthetic surface. Down face the Belfast side on the opening day of the Senior Two campaign and end their quest for the title with a home game against the new new boys next March. ItÕ' certainly going to be an interesting season.

But back to the cup clash. Down were missing Jeremy McCready, Sinclair White, Paul Neill and Chris Taylor from their line-up, but were determined to start the season with a bang. While their performance wasn't exactly a damp squib, Down's players know they are capable of an awful lot more and must produce a top drawer performance against Parkview this Saturday.

Ashley Gibson and Mark Elliott, the scourge of countless Senior Two defences last season, again combined well, but failed to make a major impression and were often starved off possession.

Gavin Ringland went close in the first half with one shot, while Aaron Minnis was again impressive at the heart of the home defence. One of the best defenders in senior hockey, Down's aim of securing promotion this season will be built on the solid foundation the likes of Minnis and Duff provide at the back.

After a goalless first half, Down were determined to make a big impression in the second half, with Paul Tate going close. Elliott also went close when he powered his way into the circle but instead of shooting, he unselfishly opted to try and pick out strike partner Gibson and the chance was lost.

Campbellians opened the scoring midway through the half with what was a rather scrappy goal. Their second also came courtesy of the Down defence's inability to clear the ball, despite having several opportunities to do so.

With Parkview and Queen's still to play in the Linden Cup, Down aim to use both games as vital preparation for the new league campaign.

Taylor and McCready will be available for the opening league game away to Campbellians from which the locals must take something. Any assault on the title needs consistency at home and picking up points away from Malone Park.

Not many teams look like taking points off the new Belfast side this season so a point from the opening league encounter would not be a disaster by any means.