Down seconds may have been defeated in this vital Junior 4 clash, but it could have been a different story if they had not conceded three poor goals in a crazy opening.

The home side, which is struggling near the foot of the table, fielded a side that looked as though it was going for the title, not one hoping to escape the drop into Junior 5.

Johnny Lennon, who was forced to use a number of players who had played against South Antrim's first eleven in the Senior Two Cup semi-final tie, was hoping his side could take something from the game, but it went home empty-handed.

Down struggled in the opening stages as they failed to get their marking right, allowing South Antrim too much time on the ball in the middle of the park.

South Antrim appeared to have extra men all over the park every time they attacked and before Down could blink they were three goals in arrears. On another day, they would have gone into the interval just a single goal in arrears, but it was just one of those days.

Down were more organised in the second half and Ashley Gibson pulled a goal back with a clever flick over the home goalkeeper who was stranded on the deck.

South Antrim then made it 4-1, but back came Down with Gibson getting a second goal with a blistering short corner strike which gave the 'keeper no chance.

In fact the visitors won the short corner count by a mile given the number they were awarded in the second period, but a number of goal-bound shots were either saved or cleared off the line.

Down's misery was compounded in the closing stages of the game when South Antrim scored after the visitors were awarded a free hit just a yard from the home side's goal-line at the other end of the pitch.

A comedy of errors saw Down make a hash of the free which went straight to a South Antrim player. Seconds later, the ball was in the back of the South Antrim net.

This weekend, Down face the PSNI and need another win to make sure they can’t get hauled into the relegation mire as the season reaches its climax.