Down are hoping for a plumb tie in the second round of the Irish Junior Cup tie following this hard-earned 3-2 win over East Antrim.

While the scoreline suggests a tight affair it was anything but. Down dominated and created so many chances they could have hit a cricket score. But with just a one-goal advantage going into the closing stages, they were glad they were not embarrassed by the home side keen to force the tie into extra time.

The loss of Aaron Minnis from the heart of the visitors' defence was tempered by the return of Chris Taylor who marked his first appearance of the season with a typically explosive shot which the East Antrim 'keeper is still looking for.

Down, who are hoping to be drawn against one of the southern teams in the second round of the competition, started very well and should have scored with their first attack of the game, but Chris Lennon fired wide with the goal at his mercy.

With Taylor back in the midfield engine room alongside Paul Tate, Stephen Ferguson was handed his favoured right wing position and he single-handedly created havoc in the East Antrim defence all afternoon.

Down were spraying the ball about with confidence, but it was the home side who punished some poor defending by taking the lead in the 14th minute.

A cross deep into the penalty area found an East Antrim player unmarked and he picked his spot past Mark Johnston. The wake-up call for the visitors was duly answered by that man Ferguson.

He collected a pass from Taylor after good work by Tate and was just inches inside the penalty area when he unleashed a tremendous shot which flew past the 'keeper before he had time to react.

It was all one-way traffic at this stage and while the visitors were in the ascendancy, some players were guilty of not passing to either Mark Elliott and Ashley Gibson who were better placed to score on several occasions.

Taylor marked his return to the starting line-up with a shot that rivalled that of team mate Ferguson for power and accuracy.

Like Ferguson, Taylor was just inside the circle when he let fly with a shot which gave the 'keeper no chance. Seconds later, Tate blazed one over the bar, while Taylor and Ferguson again went close.

Down continued to impress in the second period and Taylor was at the heart of the move which led to his side's third goal. He could have scored his second of the afternoon when he found himself unmarked in the penalty area, but he unselfishly squared the ball to Gibson who calmly lifted the ball over the advancing 'keeper where it settled in the back of the net.

It should have been game over and, while it probably was, East Antrim staged a late rally and pulled a goal back from a penalty corner. The ball eventually going in off Johnston and skipper Jeremy McCready.

Down kept it tight at the back for the closing 10 minutes and while it was a case of "job done" at the final whistle, the players know their victory should have been a lot more comprehensive.

This Saturday, McCready's men face Campbellians in the first Senior Two game of the season and with the home side one of the hot tips for the title, a draw would be an excellent result for the locals. Anything more would be a tremendous boost.