Down's senior side hit the goal trail again last weekend when they saw off derby rivals Saintfield at Malone Park.

The locals have scored 16 goals in their last three outings, but they did not have things their own way. While the visitors were missing a number of their big guns, their replacements proved they had ammunition of their own to cause problems.

Saintfield were missing regular 'keeper, Graeme Finlay, Ian Weir, Davy Johnston and Nigel Calvin, but spurred on by skipper, Ivor Johnston, the visitors were more than a match for Down in the opening half.

Alan Buchanan and Matt Owen provided the drive in the middle of the park, while at the back, Sammy Davidson and Willie Heaney were handed the job of marking Ashley Gibson and Mark Elliott respectively.

Alan Buchanan and Matt Owen provided the drive in the middle of the park, while at the back, Sammy Davidson and Willie Heaney were handed the job of marking Ashley Gibson and Mark Elliott respectively.

Up front, Saintfield relied on Dougie Reid and Lance Walker, but the duo never got a look in all afternoon, thanks to some excellent defending by Aaron Minnis, skipper Jeremy McCready and full-backs Chris Lennon and Alasdair Duff.

Down were keen to pick up maximum points and while they scored four goals after a sluggish start, the visitors could have ended up conceding a bagful more if it had not been for an inspirational performance by their stand-in 'keeper.

Time and again he was in the right place at the right time to make vital saves, particularly from a number of short corner set-pieces.

Brilliant sunshine graced the occasion and while Down were determined to produce a sparkling performance, they struggled to find their rhythm early on.

The home side started with Paul Tate and Jareth McCready on the line, with the former's absence affecting the balance of the side on the left wing.

Chris Taylor, who bagged a double on the day, came closest to opening the scoring in the first attack of the game and minutes later, Gavin Ringland saw a rasping shot saved by the 'keeper.

Down continued to press, but the young Saintfield players were not overawed by the occasion and alongside Buchanan, Owen and Chris Telford, the players swarmed forward at every opportunity.

Gibson settled the nerves of the home supporters when he nipped in ahead of his marker to divert a wicked free hit from Sinclair White. The 'keeper had no time to move.

The goal should have been the launch pad for Down to increase their lead but it was Saintfield who scored the next goal. It came courtesy of a penalty corner which the home side argued should not have been awarded. To add insult to injury, Buchanan scored from the set piece, but his shot should have been comfortably saved by the home 'keeper.

That was the end of the scoring in the first half, but Down knew they had to up the tempo in the second period. Taylor scored the first of his two goals after some great build-up play involving Tate, White and Ringland while his second was all about out-foxing the 'keeper.

From a short corner set piece, the 'keeper was expecting Taylor to crash the ball goalwards, but the Down midfielder cleverly flicked the ball which nestled in the bottom corner.

At the other end, Down's 'keeper's only action of the second half was a sliding clearance to deny Reid.

The home side's fourth goal was a typical Ringland piledriver. He swivelled on a six pence inside the penalty area to crash the ball home. Moments later he went close again, but the out-stretched foot of the 'keeper denied him what looked a certain goal.

The home side's fourth goal was a typical Ringland piledriver. He swivelled on a six pence inside the penalty area to crash the ball home. Moments later he went close again, but the out-stretched foot of the 'keeper denied him what looked a certain goal.