Down and Ballymena served up a 10-goal thriller last weekend with the home side's superior fitness the telling factor in its win.

The locals were forced to travel for the Senior Two clash with the bare eleven, while Ballymena had the luxury of four substitutes which allowed them to rotate at will over the 70 minutes.

Ballymena took the lead in the fifth minute when the defenders failed to clear their lines but the home side's lead was very shortlived. Two minutes after going behind Down were back on level terms following a long corner.

Jordan Aidey picked out Chris Taylor who slipped the ball to Gavin Ringland who gave the 'keeper no chance with a shot which saw the ball rocket into the top corner of the net.

Down 'keeper Jeremy McCready then made a smart save to keep the score level, but the ball rebounded to a Ballymena defender who was allowed too much time and space and he picked his spot.

The goal-of-the-game came in the 12th minute from Taylor. Collecting the ball just outside the 25, he beat five players with sublime skill and picked his spot with a majestic reverse stick shot from the edge of the penalty area which gave the Ôkeeper no chance.

Three minutes later Ballymena scored again from a short corner, but Down were playing well at this stage and made the home side work hard to win possession. The visitors edged ahead again in the 20th minute to lead 3-2 with another Ringland blockbuster.

Play was swinging from end to end and five minute before the interval Down found themselves back on level terms when Tory Alexander scored for Ballymena.

Within five minutes of the restart Aidey was yellow-carded and while reduced to 10 men, Down fell behind again with Ballymena delighted to be 4-3 ahead with a drag flick goal from a short corner.

Things then went from bad to worse with Alexander scoring a fantastic individual goal to give the home side a two-goal cushion. He waltzed past a number of defenders before lifting the ball over McCready with 10 minutes to go. But Down still weren’t finished.

The impressive Paul Tate, who was one of Down's top performers on the day alongside James Ferguson and Philip Cheevers, scored with a bullet short corner strike to make it 5-4. But the visitors were visibly tiring and maybe if they'd had a few subs it would have made all the difference.

Moments after he had scored Tate almost made it 5-5 when he had just the Ôkeeper to beat, but the netminder came out on top.

With two minutes to go, Jordan Aidey missed a good chance at the back post and Ballymena, who overran the visitors in the closing stages, caught Down cold when a forward's miss-hit shot saw the ball trickle over the line.