Down got the new season off to a good start with a home draw against the PSNI in a Sussex Regiment Cup tie at Malone Park last weekend.

The locals, who are in the same qualifying group as the police, Ballymena and Portrush, have a realistic opportunity of making it to the semi-finals of the competition which is only open to Senior Two teams.

Down were ravaged by cry-offs and were forced to call a number of players out of retirement to fulfil the fixture, with one of them, Chris Taylor, having a big impression and scoring a great opening goal.

Gavin Ringland, who skippered the home side, led by example and just edged out Taylor for the man-of-the-match award.  Ringland was all over the park and was delighted with the efforts of every single member of his makeshift side.

Both sides were evenly matched during the open period with Mark Elliott leading the line for Down who relied heavily on midfielders Ringland and Gary Brown, while at the back, the defence of Gary Tate, James Erskine, Cliff Lennon and Philip Brown never put a foot wrong.

Elliott went close at the other end while Taylor was unlucky with a shot which whizzed past the post with the ‘keeper stranded.  Brian Hagan, William Fryer and Mark Graham were also in the thick of the action, pressing forward and tracking back when they had to.

The PSNI gradually got into their stride but couldn’t find a way past a well organised home defence.  They managed two shots on goal but both were saved.

Ringland was delighted with the efforts of his players at the break and asked for more of the same in the second period.  Ten minutes into the half Graham slipped the ball to Lennon who fed Elliott before he played the ball to Taylor.

The experienced midfielder had only one thing on his mind and once he weaved his way into the penalty area there was only going to be one outcome.  He took aim and drilled the ball into the bottom corner of the net.

Back came the police but the Down defence held firm.  The visitors managed two more shots on goal but both were saved and Taylor then went close at the other end before the visitors equalised.

A winger’s cross saw the ball hit Tate’s stick and loop up into the air, landing at the stick of unmarked striker at the back post who scored.

The goal gave the police a lift and they held the upper hand for a few minutes during which time they forced another couple of shots on goal which were saved.

At the final whistle the makeshift Down side was delighted with a point.  Now the club needs its key players back for its remaining cup games against Ballymena, Portrush and Saintfield.