Down warmed up for next week's crucial visit to Queen's in the Linden Cup with a superb 2-0 win over Parkview at Malone Park.

Paul Tate was the hero of the day with two goals, but he knows he should have completed a starring performance with a hat-trick.

Down, who were pedestrian against Campbellians the previous week, struggled to find rhythm during the opening 10 minutes, but once they got into their stride, there was no looking back.

Parkview, who relied heavily on the experienced Paul Harvey and brothers Adam and Aaron McDonald, haven't beaten Down in several seasons and while they created the first chance of the game through Kyle Robb, his effort was saved by Mark Johnston who was particularly impressive all afternoon.

The visitors were awarded the first short corner of the game in the fifth minute by Harvey, normally so deadly from set plays, blasted his shot wide of the goal. The Parkview forwards of Robb, McDonald and John Young got littler change out of the Down defence where Aaron Minnis was once again outstanding alongside James Erskine.

With Chris Taylor still unavailable, his central midfield role was handed to Stephen Ferguson who provided the driving force in the middle of the park and was at the heart of most of his side's attacking play.

On the wing, James Cunningham proved he is at home in senior hockey and if he maintains the level of performance he displayed last weekend, he will be knocking on the door for a regular starting place.

Cunningham almost opened the scoring in the eighth minute, but his shot screamed past the wrong side of the post. But the home supporters were celebrating two minutes later.

Gavin Ringland started the move with a penetrating run into the heart of the Parkview penalty area, passing three defenders on his way. He picked out Tate with a precision pass and the striker drilled a tremendous shot into the net.

Two minutes later, Philip Thompson should have made it 2-0 after a smart move involving Chris Lennon and Cunningham, but his tame effort was saved. At the other end, Johnston produced a point blank save to deny Robb a certain equaliser before Ringland and Cunningham combined again at the other end to set up a chance for Lennon.

At the start of the second half, Johnston had to be alert at his near post to divert a shot from McDonald which looked as though it was going to creep into the net.

Parkview were keen to haul themselves back into the game, but it was Down who scored a second goal to virtually kill off the cup tie.

Lennon and Cunningham combined to create havoc in the Parkview penalty area and with defenders unable to clear their lines, Tate kept his cool to calmly lift the ball over the 'keeper into the net for a superb goal.

Two minutes later, Tate should have completed his hat-trick after a penetrating run took him past two defenders into the Parkview circle; but, inexplicably, he fired wide with a ferocious shot when he had time to place the ball in the net.

The goal killed any chance the visitors had of taking something from the cup tie, but they kept plugging away and Minnis and Erskine had to keep focused at the heart of the Down defence.

Parkview's goalkeeper then allowed a ball to go under his feet hoping it would roll into the net for a hit out. However, it struck the base of the post, leaving Ringland and Cunningham holding their head in amazement; if their sticks had been on the ground, one of them would have had the easy task of tapping the ball home.

Ferguson then went close with a low drilled shot before Down handed a senior debut to Richard Tarbotton who made an immediate impact, setting up a goalscoring opportunity for Lennon whose crisp shot was saved.

With a tough game against Queen's this weekend, Down will need to be firing on all cylinders to end their Linden Cup campaign on a high. And, depending on results elsewhere, they have an outside chance of making it to the semi-final stages.