One Point... That's all Down's senior side need against Parkview this weekend to sew up the title race which it has led for the majority of the season.

Last weekend at a sun-baked Malone Park, Down scored four goals against Portrush who inflicted a defeat on them earlier in the season at Ballycastle.

Down, who struggled in parts, always had enough in the tank, but if the visitors had scored from a fraction of the numerous chances they created, they could have pushed the home side all the way.

Goals from Paul Tate (2), James Cunningham and Mark Elliott sealed the win for the home side with the goal-of-the-game coming in the final minute, thanks to a wonder strike from Tate who could find himself pushed into a more attacking role next season and he could prove a real handful in Senior One.

In boiling conditions, both sides struggled early on, but it was the visitors who were on top, creating a chance in the first minute following a short corner which was deflected wide by Down skipper, Jeremy McCready, who had an outstanding match at the heart of the home defence.

At the other end, Gavin Ringland set up Down's first attack, creating a chance for dangerman Tate, before Eoin Sagers went close for Portrush. Mervyn McKeemin was running things for the visitors in the middle of the park while brother Wallace went close on a few occasions.

Once Down got Paul Neill into the game on the right hand side, their play improved and Cunningham, whose non-stop running has been a feature of his play all season, was in the right place at the right time to break up an attack conjured up by Sagers and Wallace McKeemin, with the latter going close seconds later from a short corner.

Down opened the scoring in the 11th minute with a move started by that man Cunningham. He drilled the ball into the heart of the Portrush penalty area where goal-poacher Elliott cleverly deflected it past David McMullan.

The goal was very much against the run of play, but Down weren't complaining and three minutes later almost doubled their advantage, but Elliott couldn't get enough on a cross from Neill.

James Erskine swooped to deny the dangerous Andy Dalzell a shot on goal in the 15th minute before McMullan denied Tate at the other end with a great short corner stop.

McCready had to be alert in the 17th minute to deny Wallace McKeemin while two minutes later, Ashley Gibson's near-post short corner strike was saved by McMullan. A minute later, Gibson went close again.

Mervyn McKeemin looked as though he would pull a goal back for the visitors from a short corner, but his flicked effort was palmed away by Down 'keeper, Mark Johnston.

With nine minutes until the break, Down doubled their advantage when a Ringland free picked out Tate who steered the ball past McMullan. Erskine then denied McKeemin with a sharp tackle and two minutes before the break, Down made it 3-0.

A Portrush defender made a mess of his clearance and Gibson nipped in to steal the ball, before unselfishly squaring it to Cunningham who fired an unstoppable shot past the 'keeper.

The second half should have been a formality but, to their credit, Portrush refused to throw in the towel and kept battling away. They forced numerous short corners and another day, would probably have scored.

Down also stopped using Neill on the right wing in the second half as the visitors enjoyed more possession. Johnston had to be alert to palm away a deflected shot from Wallace McKeemin.

Gibson again went close at the other end with a lofted shot while Alasdair Duff, who had pushed into the middle of the park, went close with a rasping effort.

Tate again tested McMullan, but Elliott failed to blast the rebound back past the 'keeper in the 60th minute, while a probing run by Stephen Ferguson was halted by Peter McKay.

In the last minute of the game, Tate popped up to score the best goal witnessed at Malone Park for quite some time. Picking the ball up on the left wing, just inside the Portrush half, he got his head down and powered towards goal, side-stepping three Portrush defenders on the way.

Tate made his way to the bye-line before cutting inside, out-foxing the 'keeper and drilling the ball into the net to bring the curtain down on a great individual performance.

A point this weekend will take Down into Senior One and the players know they can't afford to be complacent against what is a very experienced side.