Depleted squad dents Santos’ momentum

By Staff Reporter
Santos 1 -- White City 3

Mid-Ulster League Division 4

Despite warnings of complacency Santos self destructed in the first ten minutes on Saturday to put an end to their great run of results.

The old adage about not changing a winning side was never more apparent as Santos had to make four enforced late changes to the side that had gone unbeaten lately.

Worse still was that two of the changes were up front when McCarthy, then Cabril withdrew late, leaving Paul Brady as the only recognised striker.

This was to have a telling influence on the result because Paul Brady ran himself into the ground and scored a blistering goal but the lack of proper support saw Santos struggle against a nine-man back line.

Early on Santos were caught cold. Slovenly,  slack work at the back allowed White City easy possession and the speculative shot was amazingly spilled by young Archer straight to a grateful White City striker and Santos were knocked back.

Five minutes later the usually ultra reliable Aidan Hughes failed to deal with a routine punt and Mackie for White City was left all alone to tap home.

Despite the setback Santos outplayed the Dungannon men with bewitching football. As Paul Brady was put in the City keeper amazingly came outside his box to push the ball away but the incident was missed by the official which could have caused City to lose their keeper who was to subsequently emerge as man of the match. Muldoon then missed from close range while Brady hit a post.

Clarke headed powerfully only for the White City keeper to pull off a courageous save as Santos failed to make the necessary breakthrough.

The second half continued as the first had ended with Santos almost completely dominant with McGeehan unstoppable in the Santos engine room.

Brady hit a post, then the bar and saw two stupendous efforts saved but was starved of genuine support.

Time and again Santos got behind the defence but the final ball was so poor that White City gained inspiration to hold out. Hughes was now thrust forward in a series of Santos changes and Rob Clarke and McNulty bombed forward.

Then McGeehan produced a flash of genius to set Brady up and the lethal front man lashed home from 20 yards with eight minutes on the clock.

Now the self destruct mechanism kicked in again.

A rash throw in back across the Santos defence by Clarke was hurriedly booted away by keeper Archer straight to the only City player in the Santos half and with Santos committed forward he walked the ball home in White City’s only attack of the half.

The game then petered out and Santos’ title challenge may too have petered out.

Manager McGeehan refused to be downbeat.

“We played superb football again. We were patient, constructive and committed but we were missing vital players, especially the two front players.

“It hurt us and may well have ended our challenge as the other top sides did not slip up. But we will fight on and maybe fortune will favour the brave later on.”

Santos visit Aghalee this week hoping to get back on track and hoping for a favour from others against the league’s top two.

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