This Senior Two game was a real Christmas cracker with both sides going all out for the win in an eight-goal thriller.

Down took the lead in the second minute and may well have forced a draw had it not been for two defensive errors, while Portrush showed why they are being widely talked about as title contenders.

However, the visitors did not have things have things all their own way, with Down playing well in parts and shocked the visitors by taking that early lead.

The goal came after two minutes when Sinclair White drove the ball into the penalty area. The alert Paul Tate ghosted in on the blind side of the defence to deflect the ball past Portrush 'keeper Gordon McCallister for a great goal.

A minute later, Philip Cheevers had to be alert to clear from Portrush's Callum McKeemin who was to be his side's tormentor in chief as the game progressed.

A Portrush short corner routine was cleared by Down in the fifth minute but two minutes later the game was all square after the visitors were awarded another short when the ball struck White on the foot in his own penalty area.

The set piece did not produce a direct shot and when the ball was switched to the unmarked James McCook, he had all the time in the world to sweep it into the net past Jeremy McCready.

Moments later McCready kept his side in the game when he denied livewire McKeemin and then White produced a brilliant block at a short corner to deny McCook a scoring opportunity. At the other end, Tate set up a chance for Mark Elliott but his effort was cleared by David Price.

Paul Neill lost possession in the 21st minute but McKeemin failed to hit the target and the same player fired wide of the Down goal three minutes later when he should have hit the target.

Elliott looked set to score in the 25th minute but his effort was well saved by McCallister and then Aaron Ferris won a long corner for the home side but nothing came from it.

Andy Christie and McKeemin were causing problems for Down, with the home side looking to counter attack at every opportunity. In the 35th minute, Elliott was again denied by McCallister and in added time, Portrush caught the home side cold. With too many men in attack, McKeemin scored to give his side a 2-1 lead with the last action of the half.

Down forced two early short corners at the start of the second period, but it was the visitors who made it 3-1 after McCready gave the ball away with a weak kicked clearance and McCook scored his second of the game.

Within five minutes of the restart Down roared back to make it 3-2 with White drilling an unstoppable short corner strike past McCallister.

Cheevers then set Tate clear but he lost control of the ball at a crucial moment.

McCook saw a strong shot saved by McCready in the 47th minute but three minutes later Portrush players were celebrating again when McKeemin made the most of poor defending to score.

In the 51st minute Tate saw a short corner effort saved while at the other end McCready saved from McCook. The Down 'keeper then cleared from John Dillon and Gavin Ringland swooped to clear from McKeemin after White gave away possession.

It was end-to-end stuff at this stage and brilliant surge out of defence by Cheevers, who ran into the heart of the Portrush half, saw him pick out White who scored a cracker to make it 4-2.

With nothing to lose Down pushed forward; Tate went agonisingly close with a short corner effort before the unmarked McKeemin completed his hat-trick when he tucked the ball home at the back post after being picked out by Rice to make it 5-3.