Down seconds defeated runaway Junior 4 league leaders Bangor fourths at Malone Park to open up the title race.

Johnny Lennon's side dominated last weekend's game from start to finish with midfield maestro, Raymond McClurg, proving yet again why he is one of the best in local hockey.

His work rate on the day was nothing short of phenomenal. He was quick and incisive in the tackle and his covering play allowed those around him the freedom to drive forward.

McClurg was a thorn in the Bangor side all afternoon and his link-up play with skipper Lennon and the experienced Colin Gibson will have a major say in Down's push for promotion.

Stephen Fitzsimons, who was asked to play at right full back, snuffed out Bangor's dangerman as he enjoyed one of his best ever games in a Down shirt.

Philip Brown, who is in a rich vein of form at the moment, almost gave his side the lead against the visitors who looked anything like league leaders on the shale surface.

Lennon also went close with a short corner strike, while James Cunningham could not get enough purchase on a ball whipped in to the back post by Gibson.

At the other end, Mark Johnston had virtually nothing to do as the defence and midfield soaked up everything Bangor could throw at them.

The first half was a scrappy affair, but it was the visitors who were glad to get to the interval still on level terms.

Skipper Lennon urged his side to keep plugging away in the second period and the reward would come. How right he was.

The second period was just 10 minutes old when Paul Neill scored his second cracking goal in successive weeks.

A short corner routine saw the ball worked to Neiller via Lennon and Gibson The former controlled it perfectly before hammering the ball into the corner of the net.

The goal provided Down with the tonic they needed and while they created several more chances, Bangor's 'keeper had one of those days when everything he went for struck him and rebounded to safety.

The visitors did mount a final assault in a bid to take something from the game, but the Down defence, which was so impressive all afternoon, held firm.

This weekend, Down face Annadale fifths at the Lough Moss Leisure Centre and will be out to secure maximum points after drawing with their opponents in September.