Down travelled to Ballymena missing a number of regulars and while the locals put up a brave fight they lost again, remaining firmly rooted to the bottom of Senior Two.

Skipper Jeremy McCready was one of a number of notable absentees, with the others including Gavin Ringland, Alasdair Duff and Mark Elliott, with second eleven players Ryan Swail and Liam Kearney being drafted into the senior squad.

Philip Brown took over in goal and produced a number of great stops. He was also unlucky with a number of the goals which he did concede.

Ballymena took the lead in the 10th minute with Brown really unlucky not to keep out a powerful shot. Five minutes later, the game was all square when Chris Taylor produced an exquisite finish with a drag flick effort that gave Ballymena ‘keeper Eddie Hampton no chance.

Taylor, who was playing at the back, had moved upfield, collecting a pinpoint pass from the hardworking Paul Tate to score the equaliser.

Ballymena took the lead for the second time in the game in the 25th minute after some great build-up play, but any notion the home side of going into the break with the lead in tact was ruined by the visitors.

Tate made it 2-2 with a rasping short corner strike. He controlled Taylor’s push out before taking aim and firing the ball past Hampton for a superb equaliser.

Down, who were forced to play a number of their younger players did well, with the teenagers responding to the experience of Taylor, Tate and Sinclair White in particular alongside them.

The second half was just five minutes old when Down had a chance to take the lead for the first time in the game, but Mark Graham’s shot flew inches past the wrong side of the post.

Ballymena made it 3-2 in the 50th minute from a well worked short corner and while Down's Gary Brown and Jordan Wade both went close in the latter stages, the visitors could not get back on level terms.

With 10 minutes to go, Ballymena scored to take a 4-2 lead. Brown then produced a great save to prevent the home side scoring a fifth.

Down now have to wait until January 11 until their next league game away to league leaders and title favourites Portrush.