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  • Kenny Paterson





IT WAS only minutes after his side had secured their most impressive result of the season, but Gala Fairydean Rovers manager Steven Noble was already looking forward. A brilliant hat-trick by Ross Aitchison guided Gala to a thumping Hogmanay win over rivals Hawick Royal Albert, but Noble is aware that more big games are ahead in January. He said: “January is going to be a huge month with Vale of Leithen, Selkirk and Preston to play.

“We have to get our attitude right in each game, just as we did against Hawick. “It was a big game today, with lots at stake but I am really proud of the players for the hard work they put in. “Ross Aitchison has been very good in training in recent weeks and he took each of his three goals brilliantly.”

With Selkirk having won 6-0 against Vale of Leithen earlier in the afternoon, Gala and Hawick both knew three points were needed to pull them away from the relegation spot the resurgent Souters held. It led to a cagey first half of few chances, with Gala dominating possession but The Albert looking dangerous on the break. It was from one of their breakaway attacks that Hawick almost opened the scoring, only for Hamish Hunter’s brilliant 20-yard effort to hit the crossbar.

But it was the hosts who would take the lead right on half-time. Darren Smith’s free-kick landed perfectly on the head of Aitchison who did the rest from eight yards out. Any hopes Hawick had of a comeback were extinguished with three Gala goals in 14 minutes at the start of the second half. Aitchison made it 2-0 on 51 minutes when he was played clean through by Billy Miller and calmly finished past Kyle Rankin. And his hat-trick was completed just after the hour with a superb volley. Left-back Scott Main’s return after a lengthy ban made a huge difference to the home side, allowing Billy Miller back into his usual midfield role alongside Aitchison, and the Fairydean Rovers captain sealed the victory with a stunning free-kick on 65 minutes.

Gala added a fifth when Stuart Noble latched onto a short backpass and rounded Rankin, while Shaun Meikle grabbed a late consolation for Hawick, netting a rebound after Josh Morris’ effort had hit the post. Hawick have not won since beating Gala 4-1 in the reverse fixture on October 8, and manager Dean Shanks admitted his team are in a “relegation dogfight” ahead of a trip to Selkirk this weekend. Shanks added: “It was really difficult today as we only had 12 outfield players to choose from with six players missing, but it is not an excuse. We were not good enough.”

Gala Fairydean Rovers: K. Wright, L. Stephen, S. Main (L. Whyte 85), K. Waugh, G. Windram, B. Miller, D. Smith (S. Bonnington 74), R. Aitchison, S. Noble, S. Paliczka, D. Bonnar (S. Pringle 68).

Hawick Royal Albert: K. Rankin, R. Stevenson, J. McPartlin, S. Conaghan, A. Soukur, S. Meikle, G. Pettigrew, K. Mitchell, J. Morris, T. Crease (J. McInally 58), H. Hunter.

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