A highly committed Lurgan Thistle, unbeaten in nine games, put in a hugely impressive performance to knock Santos off their stride.

In truth they were helped by incredible defensive slackness from Santos and an inexcusable lethargy which may have ended promotion hopes for this season for the Candystripes.

Yet it could have been all so different. First the normally lethal McCarthy and then young Tom Kennedy had chances which they carelessly wasted.

A Thistle long throw bobbled about in the box before being poked home by Doran for the opener before he doubled his tally soon after.

Only Hughes and youngster Tom Kennedy were really making any headway as the Santos midfield struggled.

Luckily Lopez, Bruno and McNulty had steadied their game and held firm before Hughes drove a scorcher home from 25 yards to give Santos hope.

Half-time: Lurgan Thistle 2-1 Santos.

Kennedy’s pace provided openings in the second half but a disastrous third goal after 55 minutes meant Santos were up against it.

Santos rallied and opted for all three subs. Muldoon for Clarke, Sanha for Kennedy and Nolan for McMullan brought great success.

Mulholland got the ball down and dominated the midfield, Sanha unsettled the Thistle men with great skill while Nolan pushed forward confidently.

McCarthy was then upended in the box and Hughes converted his sixth penalty of the season to put the game back in the balance.

Five minutes later Sanha outstripped the Thistle defence to curl the perfect cross for Hughes to bullet a header home for his hat-trick.

Santos went after the winner and McCarthy rushed his shot with team-mates placed in better positions to score.

Then a corner and a great chance was gone as Bruno lashed wildly at the dropping ball.

A long ball into the Santos box ended in another calamitous goal for Thistle to demoralise Santos.

Three minutes later another long clearance found its way into the Candystripes net.

Manager McGeehan was disappointed yet realistic.

“After the great spirit of the previous week against Union Lusa, five players, in a spirit of complacency, absented themselves from training and it showed,” said McGeehan.

“Five senior men were simply not in the game and lost heart too early. The youngsters battled manfully and were superb in coming back from the dead but we needed all our senior players on song and not all to go missing at once.”

Santos go to Tandragee next to meet Mohan United in a must win game.