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  • Graeme McIver






Photo by : Chris Hamilton

For the second time in 6 months, Gala Fairydean Rovers exited the Football Nation Qualifying Cup at Ainslie Park. Back on a freezing February night Steven Noble’s men succumbed to an injury time strike in the semi-final stage of the competition but they fell at the first hurdle on Saturday as Spartans emerged victorious thanks to a second half goal blitz.

It had all started so well for the visitors who came flying out of the blocks and almost scored on 5 minutes when Jack Hay was sent through on goal but the striker fired narrowly past. He made amends just 3 minutes later when he rose to meet a sublime Dean McColm cross and head the ball down and under the home keeper Blair Carswell.

With Club Ambassador John Collins and John “Yogi” Hughes watching from the stands, Gala passed the ball with a confidence gained from their unbeaten start to the season. However defensive naivety allowed Spartans back on level terms in 14 minutes. Gala failed to clear their lines from a throw in and from the resultant corner Eddie Malone pounced first on a loose ball to level things up.

The home side look a force to be reckoned with this term and Greenhill, Dishington and Horribine kept the Gala side busy with some neat link up play. Jack Beesley was sent one on one with keeper Jamie Newman but after a glorious first touch the normally prolific striker somehow managed to fire wide of the goal. Dougie Samuel’s men eventually took the lead 5 minutes before half-time when Captain David Greenhill curled a superb strike beyond the out-stretched hand of Newman.

The visitors began the second half strongly and were soon back on level terms with the goal of the day. Jack Hay sprinted through onto a long pass and deftly lifted the ball over the advancing Carswell. Gala’s joy was short-lived however as once again their fine attacking play was undone due to errors at the back. On 65 minutes they allowed Spartans to take a quick short corner and from the resulting cross Chris Townsley rose unmarked to head Spartans back in front.

On 72 minutes Spartans thought they should have had a penalty when Scott Main appeared to clip Jack Beesley in the box. Referee Lorraine Clark infuriated the home team by waving their appeals away. However, within 3 minutes they put the game beyond Gala when the impressive Jamie Dishington lashed the ball past Newman from the edge of the area.

With Gala chasing the game they looked vulnerable to the counter attack and Spartans scored a fifth on 86 minutes when Craig Stevenson chased the ball to the bye-line before cutting it back into the centre of the area for Greenhill to side-foot his second of the day into the bottom corner of the net.

Fairydean Rovers boss Steven Noble was disappointed with his team’s defending but saw plenty of encouraging signs from his improving team. “I thought Spartans were very good today but we didn’t help ourselves with some poor defending. We matched them for the majority of the match and lost a couple as we chased the game late on. We can take encouragement from how we’ve started the season but we need to cut out the silly mistakes.”

Spartans: B Carswell, M Herd, E Malone, D Ward (A Brown 38), B Tolmie, D Greenhill, J Beesley (Raiker 81), J Dishington, C Townsley, D Horribine (Gabiola 81), C Stevenson.

Gala Fairydean Rovers: J Newman, L Stephen (Lamb 78), D McColm, K Waugh, S Main, T Hope (Collins 70), D Smith, A Watson, S Noble (Langford 84), J Hay, R Aitchison

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