The first big derby battle in Senior One ended all square last Friday night.

Both Down and Ballynahinch were keen to secure a win to put some much-needed distance between them and the other sides struggling at the foot of the table but had to settle for a point.

The locals know they can't afford to slip back into Senior Two and will be determined to pick up more points over the coming weeks. But that's not going to be easy.

Down face another mammoth task when they face derby rivals North Down this Saturday, while Ballynahinch entertain Queens.

Last Friday night at the Ards Leisure Centre, Down started brightly and Ballynahinch's plans were thrown into chaos when sweeper, Lawrence Patterson, had to go off injured after only two minutes, forcing Jeremy Rea to reshuffle his pack.

The locals haven't locked horns for three years and while Friday night's clash was eagerly awaited, it turned out to be rather a damp squib in the end.

Ballynahinch had a glorious chance to grab all three points in the dying seconds of the game when former Down player, Philip Murray, had a glorious opportunity to score a last-gasp winner. But Down's stand-in 'keeper, Ashley Gibson, produced a brilliant save to ensure his side escaped with a point.

In a game largely concentrated in the middle of the park, neither side seized the upper hand and while Down started brightly and the visitors took a little time to readjust after Patterson went off injured, they managed to open the scoring.

It came from a well-worked penalty corner with Mark Graham's push out played short to David Ross who drilled his shot just inside the post for an opening goal which certainly eased the tension in the Ballynahinch ranks.

Stephen Ferguson and Gavin Ringland battled hard in the middle of the park, while Rea and Graham were the main instigators of Ballynahinch's attacking play.

While determined to maintain their slender advantage, Ballynahinch were pegged back on level terms in the 16th minute when Down equalised from a short corner.

Paul Tate's push out eventually came to Mark Elliott who drove the ball towards the back post where Adam McKee nipped in to deflect the ball past Mark Brown.

Tate then had a glorious opportunity to put his side 2-1 ahead but Brown produced a great save to deny him to leave the sides locked on 1-1 at the interval.

Both sides were keen to seize the upper hand in the second period and Down were awarded a penalty stroke when a goal-bound short corner strike struck a Ballynahinch defender on the line.

Up-stepped Taylor, but nerves got the better of him and there was barely enough power in his effort to ensure the ball reached Brown's goal-line. Gavin Ringland then set up Tate but rather than blasting the ball home, he opted to flick it goalwards, allowing a Ballynahinch defender to make a great clearance.

In the closing stages, both Murray and Graham had chances to win it for the visitors, but they both missed and were left to reflect what might have been.

Down were thankful Gibson produced that great save to earn them a point, but were disappointed they hadn't grabbed all three points which would have been a major step in their bid to put more daylight between and the other teams at the foot of the table.