Late goal denies Crues

Gilford Crusaders v Shanroe Santos:One of the many fine saves by Martin Savage  � Edward Byrne Photography INBL40-234EB
Gilford Crusaders v Shanroe Santos:One of the many fine saves by Martin Savage � Edward Byrne Photography INBL40-234EB

WHILE the first half of this game produced no goals, Gilford dominated the proceedings as Ruairi Feeney tormented the life out of Santos’ defence.

Stephen Donaghey produced possibly his best performance of the season so far with great first touches and flick ons, which always found their target. In fact all of the team, to a man, seemed to have put the bad performances of the last few weeks behind them as they linked up, pressing forward at every opportunity whilst being unable to produce the elusive goal that they sought.

Gilford Crusaders v Shanroe Santos  � Edward Byrne Photography INBL40-238EB

Gilford Crusaders v Shanroe Santos � Edward Byrne Photography INBL40-238EB

Martin Savage went untested throughout the first half except for one or two occasions when Santos broke through the defence to see their efforts easily swept up by the keeper.

Santo started the second half in far better form than the first and began making inroads to produce some chances of their own.

With time ebbing away Manager Stephen McArdle made his first change of the game in 58 minutes by introducing Rony Barry, in his first appearance of the season, to replace Michael Cunningham. Barry took up position in the centre of defence with O’Hare moving up front to bring his height and strength to the attack.

Seven minutes later Santos grabbed the lead with their first real chance of the game when the referee ignored calls for offside, allowing Santo to score.

Crusaders came close to equalising within two minutes when Mark Feeney released a great ball to his cousin Ruairi on the right for him to twist and turn the defender before playing the ball into the middle of the box where it was blocked three times, one of which clearly looked to have been handled.

Gilford finally got their well-deserved first of the match in the 70th minute following a push in the back on O’Hare saw Mark Feeney float the resulting free kick into the eighteen yard box where Richie Gartland rose to loop a header into the net.

Santos nearly retook the lead within minutes when the referee, again, ignored a call for offside, only for Martin Savage to bring off a great save down at his right hand post.

It now seemed as if the teams were taking it in turns to create chances when Ruairi Feeney sent in a cross which Gartland headed wide, taking it right off the waiting head of O’Hare.

Robert McCrory took the place of Montgomery at left back immediately before they took the lead. O’Hare won the ball and passed it to Ruairi Feeney at the right edge of the box. He passed the defender then played the ball across the box for Stephen Donaghy calmly picked his spot and stroked it past the goalkeeper into the bottom right corner.

Gilford hearts almost stopped with four minutes remaining when Santos beat the offside trap only to see Savage thwart their effort.

He was, however, unable to do the same again a minute later when a penalty box scramble saw Santo equalise from what seemed, from the touchline, to be a wickedly deflected shot.

With only a minute of regulation time remaining, and extra time looming, the final sixty seconds were stretched out to 360 by the referee, which allowed Santos to grab what would prove to be the winner when an unmarked player at the back post headed into the waiting goal.