A PROPER cup tie. That’s the only way to sum up Gala’s game with Fraserburgh. It had everything. Goals, a red card, numerous chances - but it also welcomed two familiar faces back to Netherdale, as Sean Palickza and David Bonnar made the starting XI for Fairydean Rovers. Nobody was writing the Braw Lads off before the game, but most knew the Aberdeenshire side would be a tough nut to crack.
But an incredible second half display by Gala, ensured their name went into the hat for the second round draw.
Mark Cowie’s men took the lead in the 20th minute courtesy of Gary Harris, but a Stuart Noble brace either side of a Bryan Hay own goal meant it was Steven Noble’s men who were celebrating.
To make things worse for Fraserburgh, Graham Johnston was sent off in the 81st minute for having words with the linesman, not that it mattered to the Gala gaffer, who was “really proud” of his men.
Noble told the Border Telegraph: “There was a bit of nervous tension the first half because they’re a good side, with a lot of experience. They pressed us high up the pitch and they obviously did their homework, because they knew we are a footballing side. We were struggling to get out of our half,” he added.
“But second half I felt we were the better team. We were creating more chances and I’m really proud of all the players.
“That was a cup final and the lads showed how much they wanted to win and we got the result we deserved.
“Sean and David were massive. Both of them give it their all. You could see their legs turning to jelly, but they were busting a gut to get back in to take on defensive duties.
“We want a home tie against an SPFL team now. Let’s fill this place to the rafters and give the fans a performance they can be proud of.”
It was one-way traffic in the first half and Fraserburgh almost took the lead in the 12th minute. Aiden Combe hit the post from the byline and William West hit the rebound which forced a good save from Kieran Wright.
But then eight minutes later they took the lead. Combe again linked up with West, he put the ball across and there was Harris to head home at the far post.
Fairydean Rovers only managed one shot on target in the first half, but that’s all they needed. Hay tried to head back to his onrushing goalkeeper, but it wasn’t hard enough, allowing Noble to capitalise and take the ball round Paul Leosk.
Gala were lucky to be level at the interval, but a different side came out in the second half. Palickza, Noble and Dean McColm all had chances early on, but then on 78 minutes their hard work paid dividends. McColm put in a cross towards substitute Danny Simpson, he headed across the box and it was inadvertently nodded in by Fraserburgh’s Hay, who was trying to head it out of play.
Then just three minutes later, Johnstone was given his marching orders after having words with the assistant referee, who had just waved away a penalty appeal.
But this made Gala more determined. And in the 86th minute they extended their lead. Palickza put in a cross from the right hand side, Noble burst into the box, turned Hay and calmly put the ball in the net.
Despite a 3-1 lead, it was a nail-biting finish. Referee David Dickinson played an extra four minutes, which angered the Gala faithful, but it has to be said this cup tie was a real bobby dazzler.
Gala Fairydean Rovers: K Wright, L Stephen, K Waugh, S Main, B Herdman (K Collins 16), D McColm, B Miller (D Simpson 75), T Hope, Stuart Noble, S Palickza, D Bonnar.