Santos made the short journey up the A671 to take on Rochdalians Reserves in a local derby match. Dalians have lost all five games this season, so Santos were hoping to extend that run and gain their first win in four. Santos started the game brightly and went close in the first minute. They didnt have long to wait to go in front. After 10 minutes Ian Marshalls right wing corner found captain for the day, Anthony Duffy. His shot went in despite the efforts off a defender on the goal line. After 20 minutes the lead was doubled. Dean Walker pounced on a stray back pass, slotting the ball past the goalkeeper. Santos could have scored a few more goals going close on several occasions, whilst the hosts created chances but were denied by poor finishing. The last fifteen minutes of the half became utter chaos. Firstly Santos saw one player despatched to the sin bin leading to Dalians pulling a goal back shortly after. Then a second player entered the bin leaving nine men to see out the remaining few minutes.
Sensing their opponents were in a state of disarray due to indiscipline, the hosts were now fired up and looking the most likely to score. However Santos dug in somehow, some desperate last ditch tackles prevented Dalians from scoring. They managed to string some good football together resulting in a third goal. A bad kick out enabled Caimin Stevenson to receive the ball, compose himself before shooting past the goalkeeper for his first goal for Santos. His second came a few minutes later when Anthony Duffys through ball to him just beat the offside trap and he made no mistake to put the result beyond doubt. Before Dalians could kick off a third Santos player made the walk of shame to the sin bin leaving them to play the last seven minutes short handed. In the last minute Dalians pulled a goal back, a striker heading home from a right wing cross.
A hard fought win to end a winless run was offset by indiscipline. This season all incidents of dissent result in a ten minute cooling off period. With three players experiencing this, we actually spent periods short handed. This is a worry that needs addressing, but an experience we must learn from if we are to be challenging at the top of the League.