Down seconds bowed out of the Ulster Junior Shield last weekend.

The Malone Park outfit produced a below-par performance and while they almost forced the tie into extra time in the dying seconds, they had already committed the cardinal sin of giving the ball away twice to allow Annadale to score.

Down also travelled without an umpire and while the decisions of the officials in no way affected the result, the locals felt they were on the wrong side of a number of decisions.

And to compound a thoroughly miserable afternoon, Gary Brown started the game carrying an injury sustained in training.

On paper, Down should have won against a side which is in the bottom half of the league below them, but they were caught cold at the start against a team they really should have beaten. But, in one off cup competitions, league standings mean nothing and anything can happen. It did last Saturday.

Annadale took the lead in the 12th minute when their tricky midfielder was allowed too much time and space to pick out a team mate who scored. The goal was the kick up the backside Down needed and they eventually started to pick up the pace of the game.

Paul Neill and Ashley Gibson linked up well together, while Raymond and Trevor McClurg got to grips with things in the middle of the park. The visitors also forced a number of short corners, but failed to get a telling shot in on goal.

At the other end, Annadale were denied going 2-0 ahead when Down's 'keeper saved a short corner strike and minutes later he had to block a shot from an unmarked forward at the top of the penalty area. Annadale then had another opportunity to score but the shot was again saved.

The let-off allowed Down back into the game and Chris Ferguson had two golden opportunities to score, but both chances were wasted and Annadale hung on to their slender lead. Gibson went close with a half chance, but the home side went into the interval with its single goal lead in tact.

Down came out for the second period intent on hauling themselves back into the game and they did just that. Neill, who never stopped running all afternoon, was the man in the right place to fire home after good work by Gary Tate and Gibson. Down were playing well and Annadale were not making any impression in the Down penalty area at this stage.

The McClurgs were marking tightly in the middle of the park and it was fairly even at this stage of the tie. Gibson dropped deep to gain possession and the move worked, but no one pushed forward to support him in the penalty area.

Midway through the half, Down failed to clear their lines and the ball picked out an Annadale forward who scored to put his side 2-1 ahead. It was a cruel blow, but gave the home side the upper hand again and Down had to regroup. Before they had time to do however, Annadale were awarded a penalty stroke when from second phase ball at a short corner, a lofted shot hit Tate on the line.

The umpire pointed to the spot, but Annadale failed to make the most of the opportunity when a very poor flick was saved by Down's 'keeper to keep his side in the game. Four minutes later, the visitors gave the ball away again and were punished when the home side made it 3-1.

With nothing to lose Down went for it and Gibson scored a brilliant individual goal to make it 3-2. He danced his way into the penalty area and his ferocious shot was so powerful that it flashed past the 'keeper into the net.

Down were pressing forward at this stage with Annadale forced to bring men back behind the ball. The visitors were on the hunt for an equaliser, but were frustrated by a number of umpiring decisions which didn't go there way.

With just seconds to go the vociferous Annadale supporters were nearly stunned into silence. Tate and Gibson set up Neill and his shot was going into the bottom right corner of the net before it somehow spun past the post before being hacked clear.

Annadale won in the end because they took their chances and Down didn't. Good luck to them in the next round but as for Down, the tie was a game they should have won and had they taken their chances, particularly in the first half, it may well have been a different story.

This Saturday they travel to Kilkeel and know they need to take something from the game against a side which is hovering above the relegation zone.