Mark Elliott grabbed a hat-trick as Down clocked up a magnificent seven goals against a hapless Larne side last Friday night.

The locals can still finish in the top four of Senior 2 if they can win all their remaining league games, but that could prove to be a tough ask given the shortage of players which has had a major impact on the club this season.

During blustery conditions last Friday night history was made when James Erskine scored his first ever senior goal for the club and his celebrations indicated his delight at breaking his duck after years of trying.

Down gave a run out to Cecil Telford while Paul Neill made a welcome and timely return to the side for a game which looked like being a damp squib as the first 20 minutes were nothing to write home about.

Elliott should have opened his account in the 14th minute but after drawing the 'keeper he blasted the ball wide. A superb display of one-touch hockey involving Elliott, Neill and Adam McKee resulted in the latter picking his spot to give his side the lead in the 21st minute.

Four minutes later, Nial McGoldrick had a golden opportunity to fire Larne level but he blasted his shot over the bar with just Philip Brown to beat. The Down 'keeper, who made a string of great saves on the night, spared the blushes of team mate David Ferris in the 28th minute after the defender carelessly gave the ball away.

Neill was denied by Worthington in the Larne goal in the 30th minute before Marty Haveron took Elliott's goal-bound shot off the line a minute later. Two minutes before the interval Down took a 2-0 lead with Elliott getting his second of the game after Erskine set him up with a great pass.

The second half was only minutes old when Higginson took a short corner strike from Down skipper Jeremy McCready off the line with Worthington beaten. Two minutes later at the other end McGoldrick again fired wide. Telford made ground down the left and crossed for Gavin Ringland who was unlucky not to score before Brown produced another smart save to prevent Larne from pulling a goal back at a short corner.

His opposite number then produced a great double save to deny Ringland before Higginson took the midfielder's shot off the line. McCready made it 3-0 in the 49th minute after good work by Ferris, Elliott and Gary Tate and then Erskine created a chance for Elliott who made it 4-0 in the 51st minute.

Brown then somehow managed to get a toe to a Larne forward's shot while going the wrong way before Elliott completed his hat-trick in the 57th minute to make it 5-0.

Erskine intercepted a Larne attack in the 60th minute and drilled a shot into the corner of the net to create that little bit of history to make it 6-0 before McKee got his second of the game after collecting a pass from Ferris. Brown then produced another double save before McGoldrick scored a consolation for Larne.