Down seconds are creeping ever closer to the top of Junior 4 and are finding a rich vein of form at just the right time.

They defeated second-placed Portrush seconds for the second time in successive weeks and the result will reverberate throughout the league as Johnny Lennon's side aim to make it back to Junior 3 next season.

His side have been playing particularly well in recent weeks and goals from the experienced Colin Gibson and young gun, Cliff Lennon, paved the way for victory over Portrush at Down High's shale pitch.

While Lennon lost Philip Brown and James Cunningham to the firsts, he was able to hand a debut to Mark Leahy, but the win was built on a rock solid back four.

Trevor McClurg and Trevor Love kept it tight in the heart of the defence, while full backs John Hewitt and Robert Carberry drove forward at every opportunity to increase the pressure on Portrush.

On a rather bumpy pitch, both sides found it difficult to play any sort of controlled hockey, but once Gibson got into the game, there was only going to be one winner.

His experience and the ability to make time for himself on the ball, even when surrounded by opponents, rubbed off on those around him and it was no surprise he started and finished the move which led to his side's opening goal.

It came from a short corner. Gibson's push out was stopped by Down's skipper who rolled it back to the midfielder and he crashed it home.

At the other end, goalkeeper, Johnny Briggs, had only a watching brief as the defence soaked up everything thrown at it.

Minutes before the break, Down felt they should have been awarded a penalty stroke when a Johnny Lennon goal-bound shot struck a Portrush defender on the foot. Instead of pointing to the spot for a penalty stroke, a short corner was awarded instead.

After the break, Trevor Lennon was introduced into the fray and his cross to Leahy resulted in a shot which was saved. But the ball broke to Clifford Lennon who had the simplest of tasks pushing it over the line from all of three yards for his fourth goal in three games.

With less than 10 minutes to go, the visitor's pulled a goal back, after some horror defending by Down. A cross whipped into the danger area by-passed five home players before it ended at the feet of an unmarked forward who scored.

Briggs had only two saves to make and his performances, allied to those of the defenders ahead of him, have provided the locals with a firm foundation on which to mount a serious title challenge.