Senior Two leaders Down dropped their first points of the season against Larne last Friday night.

The game at The Glade was nothing short of awful, with the league leaders turning in a disappointing performance, despite taking the lead after 40 seconds.

The absence of Sinclair White and Gavin Ringland could be used as an excuse for the poor performance, but Down did enough to win the game comfortably.  It was just one of those nights and while the performance of the Larne 'keeper was outstanding, the chances are that he will never play like that in his life again.

The top versus bottom clash may have looked a formality on paper but, as is so often the case, things did not turn out the way many had expected.

Down thought they had scored a winning "goal" with 10 minutes to go, but only the umpire knows why he did not play an advantage. Visiting skipper, Jeremy McCready, was up-ended in the penalty area as the ball broke to Ashley Gibson, all he had to do was slip it into the net. Before he could do so, the umpire halted play and pointed to the spot.

Gibson stepped forward to take the penalty, but his effort was saved. After the game, the umpire apologised for the error in not allowing the advantage and while he deserves credit for his honesty, it was of little comfort to Down.

Back to the start of the game and that opening goal after 40 seconds. Paul Neill found Chris Taylor free in the middle of the park and he raced forward into the Larne penalty area before drilling the ball past the 'keeper.

Strange as it may seem, Down probably scored too early. Instead of going on from here, their play became a little sloppy and while they continued to create chances, they were not as clinical as they were earlier in the season. It was Down's first game since December 17 and their lack of match practice was clearly evident.

Taylor was unlucky to see a ferocious short corner shot saved by the 'keeper, who injured himself in the process, and while Gibson and Mark Elliott worked hard up front, they were not provided with the service they needed from the middle of the park. Larne were awarded several short corners in the first half, but failed to get a shot in on goal.

After the break, Down did continue to create some chances, while at the back, they were never really under pressure. James Erskine had superb game at left back and while Alasdair Duff was neat and tidy on the other flank, they were never fully tested.

Larne equalised in the 63rd minute. A winger's run down the right flank and across the bye-line wasn't cut out and his pass to an unmarked forward in the penalty area was swept into the net.

To their credit, Down rallied. Gibson and Taylor were denied from penalty corners and then Jareth McCready's blistering reverse stick shot was somehow kept out by the 'keeper.

The controversial penalty stroke incident then followed and when Gibson's effort was saved, it provided Larne with a boost and they surged forward in search of a winner.

It almost came in the dying seconds of the game when they were awarded a penalty corner, but Down's 'keeper made a double save at his neat post to earn his side a point they were grateful to pick up in the end.