Down seconds bid to win the Junior 6 title race suffered a major blow at Portadown last weekend.

Gary Brown's side has been superb all season, but events conspired against them on a day when they were outclassed by a side which fielded players who looked rather impressive for the bottom tier of junior hockey.

The one bright spot was a battling performance by the visitors and an inspired 70 minutes by 'keeper David Moreland who produced a number of excellent saves to thwart Portadown.

The home side took the lead in the fifth minute from play and doubled their advantage seven minutes later as Down produced an uncharacteristic slow start and were punished severely for it.

The home side made it 3-0 from a well-worked short corner, with Down upset that Lewis McIntosh, who was on the receiving end of an over-zealous challenge, was then yellow-carded which resulted in a 10-minute suspension.

Skipper Brown demanded more from his players during the interval and they responded well, upping the tempo, with Andy Teggart going close. Teggart was also forced to drop deep to help his skipper in the middle of the park where Portadown frequently had the upper hand.

Portadown made it 4-0 within 12 minutes of the restart, with Down forced to defend deeper as part of a damage limitation exercise.

The visitors ran out of steam in the middle of the park, while Moreland was doing his level best to keep the score down at the other end.

Portadown scored another three goals which was a little harsh on the visitors who have been superb all season, but who came up against a very strong Portadown outfit last weekend.

Down still have to travel to Omagh where a win could help secure second spot in the league, depending on how other results go.

Whatever happens, the locals can be justly proud of their efforts all season. They have been a credit to themselves and their club. They set themselves high standards and have performed consistently week in, week out.