Down seconds are heading for Junior 4.

The locals were defeated again last weekend and the game only went ahead as the club's senior side was also playing at Malone Park.

No less than 17 players were unavailable for a variety of reasons yesterday and the club is hoping that the situation will show a dramatic improvement over the coming weeks.

Harlequins arrived at Malone Park for this Junior 3 clash with a side comprising a number of old heads and a smattering of young talent who will no doubt make their move up the Belfast club's ranks over the coming season.

Adam McKee went close for Down in the first minute before Philip Brown produced a great save to keep his side in the game at the other end as Harlequins pressed forward in numbers.

Play was flowing from end to end but there was a lack of clear-cut chances and when the opening goal did come it was a rather unfortunate one as far as Down's Jeremy McCready was concerned.

He put through his own net in the seventh minute when he couldn't get out of the way of a cross whipped into the danger area by a Harlequins forward.

Gary Brown looked as though he had levelled things moments later but with the 'keeper out of his position his shot was cleared off the line by a defender. What happened proved crucial as three minutes later Harlequins made it 2-0 with a well-worked short corner routine.

The Belfast side almost went 3-0 ahead in the 17th minute but Price cleared the danger with a striker preparing to shoot. Mark Graham was denied at the other end a short time later, but then scored to make it 2-1 with nine minutes until the break.

Down were playing with confidence at this stage and a little bit of magic from Gavin Ringland saw the home side draw level. The midfielder's pirouette  left three Harlequins players bemused and Ringland's cross found Brian Hagan who made it 2-2 on the stroke of half-time.

The home side played well at the start of the second period and created the majority of the chances. When called upon at the other end, Brown made a number of crucial saves.

With 15 minutes to go Harlequins made it 3-2 to regain the lead and within five minutes led 5-2 with two other strikes. But a terrific point blank save by Brown prevented the Belfast side making it 6-2 in the closing stages.