A late Ballymena equaliser in the closing stages of this Senior 2 Cup tie at Malone Park last weekend left the home players deflated at the final whistle.

Down were leading 2-0 with 20 minutes to go, but the visitors, who probably deserved a draw on the balance of play, struck back. They made it 2-1 in the 56th minute and five minutes to go scored an equaliser from a short corner breakdown. But the home players were not happy.

The push out went well outside the Down penalty area and when the ball struck a Ballymena player on the foot, Down's Sinclair White who was closest to him stopped running to make a tackle, waiting for the umpire's whistle. It never came, with the official allowing play to continue which resulted in Tim Lowry scoring.

Ballymena should have opened the scoring in the second minute when Matt O'Neill found himself unmarked with just home 'keeper Jeremy McCready to beat, but the visiting forward's control let him down.

White, who was undoubtedly Down's stand out player, went on a mazy run which took him into the Ballymena penalty area in the fourth minute with his blockbuster of a shot missing the back post by a whisker.

Gavin Ringland, who pushed White hard for the man-of-the-match award, blocked Andrew McKelvey’s route to goal before McCready produced a smart save to deny Lowry.

Down were awarded their first short corner in the eighth minute with White failing to test Eddie Hampton in the Ballymena goal. Moments later at the other end, David McDonald’s shot was blocked by McCready.

Mark Elliott looked as though he was about to pull the trigger in the 13th minute after collecting a raking pass from White, but the ball struck the former on the foot and the opportunity was lost. James Erskine then swooped to take the ball off Lowry's stick before White set up Jordan Wade at the back post, but the young midfielder's control let him down.

Hampton's first save of the game came in the 21st minute, denying Elliott before Erskine was forced to mop up with Mark Allison about to strike. Elliott then put Liam Kearney through on goal but his control let him down before a scintillating Wade run earned his side a free on the edge of the penalty area which they couldn't capitalise on.

White blasted wide from a short corner in the 28th minute before Down's Alasdair Duff got in the way of a Ken Murphy shot. Richard Hamilton made a number of timely clearances for Down before Lowry rattled the side of the net when he really should have scored.

Lowry should have put his side ahead 10 minutes after the restart but couldn't hit the target before White scored the goal-of-the-game. He pressed a Ballymena defender into a mistake, winning possession and driving into the penalty area.

As Hampton came out to meet the Down midfielder, White side-stepped him and just when it looked as though he had lost control of the ball he dived full length to hit it on the reverse into an empty net in the 44th minute.

Elliott thought he had made it 2-0 moment later but his "goal" was ruled out after the umpire rightly signalled the ball into the Ballymena penalty area was high and dangerous. Erskine then drilled a tantalising ball into the penalty area, but there was no one on hand to test Hampton.

Down took a grip on the game in the 50th minute when White superbly picked out Elliott who made no mistake. With 20 minutes to go, Ballymena had nothing to lose and piled men forward. The home side should have went 3-0 ahead when Taylor deflected an Elliott close towards goal, only for Clive Lutton to clear.

McCready produced a smart save to deny Lowry in the 56th minute before the visitors made it 2-1 seconds later when McDonald’s short corner shot crept in at the near post, with no Down defender on the line.

McCready then denied O’Neill what looked like a certain equaliser before Murphy blasted wide. Then came that Ballymena equaliser.

In the dying seconds, things could have been a lot worse for Down as that man Lowry pushed the ball wide of the net when he really should have scored to seal the win.