Down may have won this Senior Two clash by a single goal, but they dominated the match from start to finish and should have racked up a cricket score.

The home side was perhaps guilty of over-playing at times and if Paul Tate had not made it 3-1 to Down in the closing minutes, they could have ended up with an embarrassing draw.

That's because Portrush scored from the spot after being awarded a penalty stroke after debutant, Mark Johnston, was penalised for playing the ball on the ground.

Without the inspirational Ronnie Smyth, Portrush lacked penetration and the absence of the experienced Mervyn McKeemin was also a blow for the visitors.

Down created the first opening of the game in the second minute when Sinclair White picked out Tate and he just failed to get on the end of a scintillating cross. Chris Taylor was then guilty of missing an easy chance after great build-up play down the right flank by Stephen Ferguson.

At the other end, Wallace McKeemin got in on the blind side of the defence, but a superb covering tackle by Alasdair Duff snuffed out the danger. Taylor then went onĀ  a mazy run, but it was the no-nonsense Gavin Ringland who put his side ahead in the eighth minute.

Ringland, who scored two on the day and currently heads the club's goalscoring charts, drilled home an unstoppable shot from his side's third short corner of the game, giving the 'keeper absolutely no chance.

Minutes later, Ringland tested the 'keeper with another ferocious shot and when the rebound fell to Taylor, he was unlucky to see his effort fly inches past the wrong side of the post.

Skipper Jeremy McCready was penalised in the 16th minute when the ball struck his foot in the penalty area, but Portrush failed to test Johnston from the resultant short corner.

Jareth McCready was denied at the other end four minutes later and then Ferguson incredibly hit the post from point-blank range after he was beautifully set up by the impressive White.

Taylor, whose powerful running caused major problems all afternoon, then set up a chance for Jareth McCready which he would normally put away and with Portrush holding out for the half-time whistle, Ringland bagged his second of the afternoon. It was almost a carbon copy of his first goal as he again drilled the ball past the 'keeper.

Johnny Lennon almost scored his first senior goal within minutes of the restart and Taylor again went close before Portrush made it 2-1 with what looked a very scrappy goal when McKeemin got in between Minnis and Johnston.

White then went close at the other end, while Johnston was forced to clear from Dalzell at the other end. Down were creating numerous chances, but instead of pulling the trigger in the penalty area, the players seemed to want one touch too many.

Tate then made it 3-1 when he cleverly deflected the ball past the 'keeper after a White free hit from the edge of the penalty area. Johnston was then penalised for playing the ball on the ground and Dalzell made it 3-2, but the locals were never in any danger of not picking up maximum points to win their second league game of the season.