Down opened their Senior Two league campaign with a convincing win in a game that was abandoned before half-time.

Larne, who had started confidently, ended the game with just eight men on the pitch and when Down scored their fourth goal of the afternoon during a five-minute blitz when they rattled the backboard three times the visitors threw in the towel.

A Larne defender, who fell awkwardly in the 12th minute, had to be taken by ambulance to the Downe Hospital after breaking his wrist and seriously injuring his neck in what can only be described as a freak accident.

The player lost his footing in attempting to tackle a Down player and crashed to the ground. After being taken to the Downe, he was later transferred to the Royal Victoria in Belfast.

To compound the visitors' problems, a Larne player had to accompany the injured player to the Downe, leaving his with just nine players. Incredibly, less than five minutes later, another Larne player was in the wars.

This time the visitors' centre-forward, who was called back to help the defence, could do nothing as the ball took a wicked deflection and smacked into his chin, leaving a nasty wound which required six stitches.

Before both incidents, both sides were serving up a spectacle of entertaining hockey, with Larne fighting back from conceding an early goal.

It was scored by Stephen Ferguson who making his first start of the season on the right wing. Coincidentally, another player was making his first start on the other wing where Jareth McCready added much-needed balance to the side and was unlucky not to score with a reverse--stick effort which crashed against the post before rebounding to safety.

Down took the lead in the 14th minute following a short corner. Gavin Ringland saw his initial shot saved and when the ball rebounded to Ferguson, he crashed an unstoppable shot into the net past Higginson.

While Larne huffed and puffed at this stage, they never looked threatening, with the Down defence of Chris Lennon, skipper Jeremy McCready, Trevor McClurg and Alasdair Duff on top.

Within seconds of Jareth McCready hitting the post at the far end, Larne found themselves back on level terms through Ian Hodge who found himself unmarked in the penalty area with time to pick his spot.

The Down defenders were guilty of ball-watching and is something they will have to sharpen up, but when Larne were reduced to nine men, skipper Jeremy McCready immediately seized the initiative and moved forward to make the most of the numerical advantage.

Paul Tate, who had another impressive game alongside Sinclair White and  Ringland, took a firm grip of the game and within two minutes of Larne being reduce to nine, they were 4-1 behind.

Tate scored his first goal for his new club with a powerful strike that whistled into the net, while skipper McCready also got on the scoresheet, courtesy of a Larne defender's foot.

Ferguson then made it 4-1, but was guilty seconds earlier of not presenting White with a gilt-edged opportunity. Fergie unwisely attempted to flick the 'keeper when all he had to do was square the ball for White who was unmarked an in acres of space, just waiting to pull the trigger.

Down have no game this weekend, but face Portrush at home the following Saturday when they will be keen to maintain their winning start to the new season.