Down seconds battled through the rain to secure a hard-earned 2-1 win over Raphoe thirds at Malone Park.

The visitors, who were late in arriving for the game, were forced to start with just seven men. But Down failed to exploit this fact by playing with extra men up front to put pressure on the Raphoe defenders. In fact, it was the Donegal men who looked more composed during the opening stages when they played as though they had eleven players on the park.

Down, who drew at home to Kilkeel thirds two weeks ago, were keen to secure two points and while grateful they did in the end, they know they have to be more clinical in front of goal and keep a tight rein on the midfield.

Last weekend's win leaves Down on nine points and they will be keen to add to this tally over the coming weeks, once again ensuring that Malone Park is turned into a fortress.

The locals took the lead in the sixth minute with a rather fortunate goal. A sweeping move started by Trevor McClurg saw the ball worked to Philip Brown and his aerial pass was collected by Chris Ferguson who drove the ball home.

It was all one-way traffic at this stage with the home side creating several chances, but they also wasted a number of short corners, something they are going to have to work on.

At the other end, Down's 'keeper had one kicked clearance to make as McClurg and Gary Tate let nothing through the heart of the home defence. In the 15th minute Down went 2-0 from a short corner. The push out was stopped by Ashley Gibson who shot was half-saved by the Raphoe 'keeper after it was deflected off a team mates stick, before it fell to the ground and bobbled over the line.

Once Raphoe were at full strength, they began to play a bit, with the experienced Mitchel Patterson their main playmaker.

He pushed forward when he could and had a hand in his side's only goal of the game, scored with 10 minutes of the half remaining. Down were punished for not closing a left wing attack and a forward's cross was deflected into his own net by an unfortunate McClurg.

Brown and Stephen Ferguson went close at the other end and while Raphoe pressed, they didn't manage a shot on goal or force a short corner for the remainder of the half.

Down were keen to press home their advantage in the second period, but heavy and persistent rain made flowing hockey difficult for both sides, Stephen Fitzsimons went close, while Stephen Ferguson should have pulled the trigger with just the 'keeper to beat.

Raphoe's only shot in the second half came with 10 minutes to go when an unmarked forward had the goal at his mercy but his shot was saved and the rebound was hacked to safety.

Despite the performance, the most important thing was securing two points. Down face South Antrim in the cup this Saturday before facing Bangor fourths away.