THE KILLER FINISH BEATS GFR
GRETNA 2008 1
GALA FAIRYDEAN ROVERS 1
A late smash and grab by Gretna 2008 denied Gala Fairydean Rovers a deserved win in a match they dominated from start to finish at Raydale Park last Tuesday evening. Steven Noble’s men somehow contrived to miss a raft of chances whilst at the other end the only shot on target the home side had during the 90 minutes found its way into the visitors net to secure a share of the spoils for the manager-less Gretna side.
With Rangers temporarily recalling on loan keeper Kieran Wright before kick-off, Noble was forced into handing a debut to new signing Michael Fenton in goal. Meanwhile Gretna’s Chief Executive Stuart Rome took charge of the home side after Steven Rudd has resigned from his role as Head Coach due to work commitments earlier in the week. Interested onlookers at Raydale included former Gretna FC boss Rowan Alexander who led the now defunct original club to the 2006 Scottish Cup Final and Gavin Skelton, the player who missed the penalty that handed the Cup to Hearts in that game. The hardy band of current home supporters must long for a return of those glory days as the present team had lost in all of their 5 previous league outings.
The visitors took control of the game almost from the first minute and dominated possession without carving out too many early chances. They took a deserved lead however on 12 minutes when Taylor Hope side footed home a corner past Danny Armstrong in the Gretna goal. The home side seemed content to sit in and allow Gala plenty of possession whilst trying to hit back on the break. Rob McCartney on the left hand side proved a handful for the Gala defence but the Gretna winger could not deliver a telling final pass and debutant Fenton had very little to deal with in the first 45 minutes. The game was delayed for around 5 minutes just before half-time following a bad knee injury to Gretna’s Dan Wadge which resulted in an ambulance being summoned to for the defender.
Gala started the second period in determined fashion and should have doubled their advantage on numerous occasions. In 50 minutes Danny Simpson found himself through on Armstrong but he shot straight at the home keeper. Just 5 minutes later Ross Aitchison blazed over following good work by Dean McColm and then the same player saw his attempted chip of the keeper fall just past the wrong side of the post. Simpson had another shot well saved just after the hour mark before Aitchison charged down a clearance by Armstrong but the ball flew just wide of the goal.
Given Gala’s profligacy in front of goal it was perhaps inevitable that Gretna would equalise with their first and only shot on target all night. Gala conceded a free kick on the edge of the area on 76 minutes and Captain Josh Simpson sent a well-placed shot over the wall and past the despairing Fenton into the bottom right hand corner of his net.
On 80 minutes the visitors thought they had regained the lead thanks to good work down the left by substitute Stuart Noble whose cross was turned in at the back post by Sean Paliczka. However the far side Assistant deemed that the former Newtongrange Star man was in an offside position. In a dramatic finish Gala struck the underside of the bar following a Darren Smith free-kick but it proved to be the final kick of the ball on a frustrating night for Steven Nobles’s men.
The exasperated Gala gaffer said afterwards,
“We are really disappointed not to win a game that we dominated in terms of possession and chances, but when you are only 1-0 up there’s always a chance the opposition can get back into it. We need to dust ourselves down and try and pick up the 3 points on our travels to Hawick on Saturday. Draws in games we should be winning are killing us this season but we can take a number of positives from our performance. I thought the back four did well in restricting the home side to only one shot on goal all night.”
Gala Fairydean Rovers: M Fenton, L Stephen, B Miller (captain), S Main, T Hope, D McColm, D Smith, R Aitchison (A Nicol 80), D Simpson (S Noble 73), S Paliczka, D Bonnar. Unused Subs: George Windrum, Ryan Clapperton.
Gretna 2008: D Armstrong, J Brannan, D Wadge, J Dickinson, B Murray, C Casey, D Wood, J Simpson (captain), C Murray, R McCartney, J Hope.