Down seconds produced a magnificent performance against Instonians last weekend to complete a Junior 3 league double over the Belfast side.

The win takes the locals points tally to 22 and had it not been for some poor performances at home to Lisnagarvey and Cookstown respectively, the Malone Park side could have been in with a real shout for one of the two promotion spots.

Playing on a magnificent new pitch, the visitors produced one of their best performances of the season and while they were hanging on in the end, the two points were very welcome.

Ashley Gibson returned to the starting line-up and played very well throughout. When the going got tough in the closing stages, he dropped back to provide defensive cover in the middle of the park, frustrating the home side's ability to force their way back into the game.

Instonians went close on two occasions in the opening 15 minutes with well-worked short corner routines, but both were well saved, providing the visitors with hope they could take something from the game. Chris and Johnny Lennon played well in defence alongside the ever-reliable Trevor McClurg, while James Cunningham, Stephen Ferguson, Stephen Cullum and Philip Moreland never stopped running in the middle of the park.

Down took the lead in the 16th minute through Gibson who produced a scintillating finishing, crashing the ball past the 'keeper after he had been set up with a perfectly weighted pass from Ferguson. Instonians then forced another short corner which was saved before the visitors doubled their advantage.

The umpire played a great advantage which allowed Ferguson to bear down on goal. He fluffed his initial shot, but when he was presented with a second opportunity there was only going to be one outcome. Just inches inside the penalty area he unleashed an unstoppable shot which flew into the net past the 'keeper before he had time to move.

Johnny Lennon then saw a goal-bound short corner strike cleared off the line and Philip Brown also went close to extending his side's lead, but it was the home side which scored after a mistake by the home umpire. Johnny Lennon won the ball cleanly with a reverse stick tackle, but the home umpire awarded a free against him. Seconds later Instonians were awarded a short corner from which they scored.

With two minutes of the half to go, Gibson side-stepped the challenge of two defenders but his shot across the goal missed the far post by millimetres with the goalkeeper flat-footed.

Down were keen to press on in the second period and prove how well they can play on the synthetic surface and with the midfield quartet on top, they did exactly that. There were a few dubious umpiring decisions, but the visitors carried on regardless and Ferguson scored his second of the game to give his side a 3-1 lead.

The goal came following a short corner. Gibson's initial strike bobbled towards the goal, but Ferguson reacted quickest and picked it up at the near post to scoop it past the 'keeper from the tightest of angles.

Instonians then threw caution to the wind and while they forced a number of short corners, Down's 'keeper made a number of important blocks, with Ferguson and Johnny Lennon also sweeping the pads particularly well.

Moreland then produced a sublime piece of skill at the other end, cleverly beating two defenders before shooting at goal. His strike was saved but it deserved so much more.

Down were forced to defend in numbers in the closing stages and Instonians gave themselves a glimmer of hope when they made it 3-2 from a short corner. The initial strike was again saved, but with no defenders sweeping the pads, the ball was drilled into the net past McClurg who was on the line.

It was backs-to-the-wall stuff in the closing stages and Johnny Lennon was injured when defending a short corner. While the home side was awarded a short corner seconds before the final whistle sounded, they failed to make the most of it, despite pushing everyone forward.

Instonians did manage to conjure up a shot, but it was magnificently defended which resulted in a shot being deflected over the bar to seal an impressive and deserved win.

Down have just two games left and, incidentally, they are against the top two teams in Junior 3. This weekend the seconds entertain Annadale fourths, who are already promoted, before concluding their season against Portadown seconds at home.