STALEMATE AT NETHERDALE
Gala Fairydean Rovers 2
Cumbernauld Colts 2
Kenny Paterson at Netherdale
THERE have been plenty baffling decisions to emerge from the corridors of Hampden over the years.
But one that the SFA deserve credit for is introducing a long awaited pyramid system, and with it the Lowland League.
Evidence of the league’s strength was highlighted by five of its sides beating Highland League opposition in the Scottish Cup first round.
And there was further proof of the division’s improving quality with a classic match at Netherdale 3G Arena as Gala Fairydean Rovers and Cumbernauld Colts shared the points.
It is also a sign of how far Gala have come in the four weeks since that dreadful 7-1 loss at Selkirk that manager Stevie Noble was disappointed not to claim a victory against high-flying Cumbernauld.
Noble said: “We had two or three chances at 2-1 up to add another but we didn’t take one and it cost us.
“I thought Cumbernauld edged the first half but we were much the better team in the second half.
“Despite not winning the game, we are now four games unbeaten.”
The Colts have a Scottish Cup first round replay this week against Leith Athletic but their first half performance gave no indication that their concentration had drifted to the lucrative tie.
They made a series of chances, majority of which were thwarted by a series of superb saves by Gala goalkeeper Kieran Wright.
Left back Richard Kirwan scored a last minute winner for Cumbernauld against Gala last season, and he struck again with a thumping 30 yard drive on 23 minutes which found the net via the underside of Wright’s crossbar. Murray then hit the post with a swerving free kick as Cumbernauld threatened to kill off the game before half time.
Gala had failed to test visiting keeper Chris Fahey but found themselves level four minutes before the break when Stuart Noble was clipped by Michael Morris, allowing Darren Smith to convert from the penalty spot.
There was still time for Wright to make two outstanding stops from Jamie Broadfoot and Murray before half time.
The return of Sean Paliczka and David Bonnar proved a boost to Fairydean Rovers for their Scottish Cup win against Fraserburgh the week before, and the former was a threat on the right side of the pitch throughout a second half which was tiring just to watch.
Smith fired over from Paliczka’s great cross before Andy Hunter hit the bar with a header from Broadfoot’s cross at the other end.
But it was Gala who got themselves into the lead on 56 minutes when Dean McColm produced a thumping 25 yard half volley which was almost hit as hard as a Rory McIlroy drive.
The homesters needed another with Cumbernauld remaining dangerous, but Paliczka hit the side netting and McColm sliced a shot wide when clean through.
And their misses were punished with 16 minutes left as Andrew Selkirk finished O’Neill’s cross from close range.
Both sides went for the win with Gala substitute Danny Simpson mis-controlling when through on Fahey, and Rangers loanee Wright making his best save of the game to palm away a curling effort from Cumbernauld’s own sub Owen Ronald.
But ultimately a point each was a fair result from a cracking advert for the Lowland League.
Gala Fairydean Rovers: K. Wright, L. Stephen, K. Waugh, S. Main, T. Hope, D. McColm (D. Simpson 83), D. Smith, B. Miller (R. Aitchison 75), S. Noble, S. Paliczka, D. Bonnar.