Neilston co-manager Derek Carson has called on the Scottish Junior Football Association to introduce a winter break after once again being forced to make up the numbers on his own bench.

With several key players missing due to injury, sickness, holidays and suspensions, a depleted Neilston side fell to a 3-2 loss at home to Petershill on Saturday.

Along with himself, Carson named two under-19 youngsters and a trialist on the Farmer’s Boys bench as the hosts fell to a second defeat from their last three outings.

Getting off to a nervy start, Neilston conceded a penalty after the ball was handled in the box inside the opening 10 minutes, with former Brig player Scott Anson sending the keeper the wrong way.

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The hosts looked to respond quickly but slack play in the middle of the park on the half-hour mark allowed the visitors to double their advantage through Scott McManus.

McManus grabbed Petershill’s third moments after the break before Carson’s men staged a spirited comeback.

Stephen Stirling slotted home from a Ross McKinnon cross just shy of the hour mark to hand Neilston a lifeline, before Paul Doyle popped up 66 minutes in to head home a second.

Neilston pressed for a leveller without really troubling Peasy, with Carson left bemoaning “pointless” winter fixtures.

“Another loss is difficult to take but, at the same time, we were down to the absolute bare bones in terms of our squad,” the Brig gaffer said. “We had 11 fit players to choose from, including the bench, so we had to bring in kids from the under-19s, a trialist and myself to fill it up.

“You couldn’t get any more threadbare, which just backs up what I’ve previously said about playing football at this time of the year – especially at this level.

“We had a few boys unable to play with the flu, a few away on holiday with family and a few injured or suspended. We won’t be the only team struggling like that, so it would just make sense to have a winter break.

“I honestly don’t see the point in the Juniors playing right through the winter. We start our league season earlier these days, so there is definitely scope to give all the boys in the leagues two weeks off over Christmas but, for one reason or another, they refuse to.”

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Not looking to make excuses for his side’s slump in form, Carson said Neilston may have been fortunate at times during their recent unbeaten run.

He added: “Looking at our own form, we’ve probably been riding our luck over the last few weeks. We’ve had a severely depleted squad and have still been picking up wins and draws when we maybe didn’t deserve them, based on the play. That all caught up on the boys on Saturday. Two very stupid mistakes cost us and I’m putting that down to tiredness.”

Looking ahead, Carson insists this weekend’s West of Scotland Cup second round clash against Kilsyth is a much-needed distraction from league duty.

He said: “We’ll be getting a few boys back from injuries, suspensions are up and boys are all back from holiday.

“We’ve got a good cup tie now to get a wee welcome break from the league.

The cup allows us to give some boys game time to blow off some of the cobwebs from December to make sure we go into the next league game sharp and ready to go.

“We’ve been playing with a depleted squad but all the boys and management team are desperate to remain in all the competitions.”

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