Down bowed out of the Sussex Regiment Cup last weekend losing 3-0 at home to Cliftonville.

The home side was missing a number of key players, but those drafted in from the seconds for such an important cup tie did really well.

Down's Gavin Ringland was outstanding at the heart of the defence and it was no surprise at all that he suffered cramp in the closing stages given the work he had put in.

Time and again Ringland was the man to break up Cliftonville attacks and clear his lines as the visitors threatened the Down goal. Ringland's long passes turned defence into attack, but Mark Elliott struggled on his own up front as he was starved of possession. When he did get the ball there was often no one there to support him.

Down goalkeeper David Moreland denied David Hurley in the first minute with Ringland collecting the rebound off the 'keeper's pads to clear his lines.

The home side was awarded its first short corner in the seventh minute but the chance went begging and then Andy Teggart, making his debut for the senior side, was tackled by Dale Curragh as he prepared to take aim.

Hurley then found himself with just Moreland to beat but the 'keeper stood tall to produce a smart save.

The visitors were attacking in numbers at this stage and were awarded their first short corner in the 14th minute, but Ringland and James Ferguson combined to prevent a shot on goal. Three minutes later Moreland was forced to produce a smart double save at his near post, first denying Hurley and then Julian Stevenson.

Cliftonville were awarded their second short corner in the 23rd minute and took the lead from the set piece. Phil Chambers was the man who got the goal after being teed up by Stevenson with Moreland unable to do anything to keep the shot out.

Gary Brown’s raking long ball into the heart of the Cliftonville penalty area in the 26th minute just evaded Mark Graham before Philip Brown was forced to clear from Chris Arnott who was looking to double CliftonvilleÕs advantage.

Down were awarded a short corner with nine minutes of the half remaining and Paul Tate's shot looked to be on it's way to producing an equaliser before it was deflected over the bar by Mark Cunningham.

Graham saw his short corner strike blocked in the dying seconds of the half and while another set piece was awarded, the home side couldn’t find the net and went into the interval a goal in arrears.

Arnott won a short corner for the visitors within a minute of the restart but Moreland was forced to produce another double save to deny Curragh before he set up Hurley whose shot struck the post and flew wide. Philip Brown then cleared from Hurley who was getting too much time and space inside the Down penalty area.

Tate was bearing in on goal when he was blocked by a Cliftonville defender but the umpire failed to award the obvious free and when the Down player protested he was green-carded before Mike McKimm fired wide at the other end when well placed to score.

Cliftonville made it 2-0 with just nine minutes to go when Stevenson had the simple task of pushing the ball into an empty net following a well-worked short corner routine.

Down players were struggling for possession and Moreland was forced to produce another save to deny Chambers before Hurley again fired wide when he really should have scored. With three minutes to go Cliftonville made it 3-0.

Tate almost scored a consolation in added time while Moreland reacted smartly to produce a great stick save to deny Curragh in the last action of the game.