Gala Fairydean Rovers 1
SELKIRK gaffer Garry O’Connor insisted after his team’s first win of the season on Saturday that he had never doubted his players or his own management despite failing to pick up a point from the first six Lowland League matches.
Perhaps the former Scotland striker should package up some of that self-belief and send it over to his Netherdale counterpart Steven Noble, who watched his side lose their fifth in a row.
Both teams had been struggling for form and points going into Saturday’s derby, yet by 4.45pm O’Connor was brimming with the kind of confidence rarely seen since his promotion to the dug-out some ten months ago, while Noble was curled up in a corner anticipating a few restless days of soul searching. Following his side’s stunning seven-goal victory, O’Connor told us: “I couldn’t be a prouder man tonight.
“I have never doubted my players – we were second best in a few games but there were games we should have taken something from – and I knew we would come good.
“The ball started to run for us today and we showed what we can do. The effort was there and the ability of players can’t be questioned, we just need to build on this.”
O’Connor was without his regular striker Gary McCormack and the arriving former Leicester City and Scotland age-group forward Jordan Neil. But it was Gala’s lengthy absence list, which included midfield stalwarts Billy Miller and Ross Aitchison as well as striker Stuart Noble, that was to have the biggest influence on Saturday’s derby. The Fairydean Rovers started well enough with the industrious Danny Simpson heading them in front on eight minutes.
The forlorn look on the faces of Selkirk supporters didn’t last long as the home team responded well.
And it was quickly evident that O’Connor’s midfield duo of Ross King and Ricky Miller were finding the space and time to orchestrate a steady stream of attacks.
Phil Addison headed a King cross just wide before a rushed clearance by keeper Jamie Newman went straight to Gary Nicholson on 16 minutes, but the former Penicuik winger could only steer the ball against the post from 20 yards.
Gala had a golden chance to double their advantage on 22 minutes but Gregor Amos was equal to Darren Smith’s angled drive.
The equaliser came on the half hour with Miller barging his way through two tame challenges to slip a pass into the path of Addison, who made no mistake from 15 yards out.
Andrew Fleming went within inches of heading the Souters in front just four minutes later.
But there was still time for the home team to take a first half lead with Addison finding plenty of space to head Murray Christie’s cross into the far corner of the net.
Noble’s reaction was to replace Ross Lamb and Michael Allan immediately – but the changes, along with the half time introduction of striker Jack Hay, were to make little difference to the dominance of Selkirk.
Nicholson made it 3-1 five minutes after the restart with a stunning low, angled drive from 20 yards.
The Fairydean Rovers were almost gifted an unlikely lifeline five minutes later as Christie’s timely interception flew over the head of Amos to land on the bar.
And from the resultant corner Ben Herdman headed inches over.
But Selkirk’s fourth, just before the hour, made sure the points were remaining at Yarrow Park. Fraser Neave’s inch-perfect freekick was met by the head of the diving Miller to steer it low and hard beyond Newman.
Addison completed his hat-trick on 75 minutes as he raced into the area to smash home a low shot.
With seven minutes remaining Addison teamed up with King to play their way through the defence before receiving a reverse pass to slip the ball beyond Newman for his fourth.
But, remarkably, the best was left until last with substitute Jay Doyle firing home a shot from his just inside his own half to round off the 7-1 rout.
O’Connor paid tribute to his captain at the final whistle.
He said: “Ricky (Miller) was outstanding for us today. I don't want to single out players as everyone was excellent, but he’s playing with ligament damage in one ankle and shouldn't even be on the park.
"That shows the kind of determination we want at this club.”
Selkirk. G Amos, M Samson, M Christie, J Harley, A Fleming, R Miller, R King, G Nicholson, P Addison, F Neave (J Doyle 65) & M Collin. Unused subs C Fair, P Beagley & G O’Connor.
Gala Fairydean Rovers. J Newman, L Stephen, S Main, M Allan (K Waugh 44), G Windram, B Herdman, D Smith, R Lamb (D McColm 44), D Simpson, A Langford (J Hay 46) & A Watson.