Down surprisingly lost to a fast-improving Ballymena side last weekend.

The visitors can't be faulted for their efforts and played well in parts, with young 'keeper Jordan Aidey making a number of great saves to keep his side in the game.

Down have played in fits and starts this season and were quietly confident of taking something from the game following their 4-2 win over Saintfield in their last outing away from home.

But Ballymena under coach Paul Harvey are improving and have a number of excellent players who will cause problems for any side.

The visitors took the lead in the 12th minute from a well worked short corner. When the ball found its way to Chris Taylor he produced a powerful finish, drilling the ball into the middle of the goal.

Ballymena fought back and scored the equaliser from the last of 10 in a row short corners they forced with Aidey beaten by a strong shot.

In fact before the home side levelled, they had struck the base of the post and had two "goals" disallowed by the umpire for a variety of reasons.

The fact Ballymena did not go to take the lead at this point in the game was due to Aidey who produced a tremendous performance and could be a regular in the side over the coming years.

Down's Mark Elliott and Taylor again went close with half chances before the break, with the sides still locked at 1-1.

Down were trying to play at 100mph instead of slowing the game and making the ball do the work on the synthetic pitch. The fact they tried to play at a high tempo probably cost them in the end.

Within 10 minutes of the restart Ballymena scored what proved to be the winning goal and while Down tried to force an equaliser in the closing stages they ran out of steam.

This Saturday they face Omagh at home and while the players won't take anything for granted, they should win as the visitors won't fancy the shale surface.

Down need to win to provide a little confidence booster ahead of their remaining back-to-back league games against Foyle before the end of the year when six points are up for grabs.