FERRARI PACKAGING LOWLAND LEAGUE
SINCE the formation of the Lowland League four seasons ago the Gala-Selkirk derbies have never failed to provide thrills, spills and plenty of talking points.
While Saturday’s instalment didn’t serve up the usual feast of goals – a remarkable 60 in the previous 11 meetings – it did provide edge-of-the seat entertainment from the kick off. And for anyone foolish enough to have left before the fifth minute of injury time, they missed one final twist.
George Windram’s last gasp equaliser was certainly contentious, but it was also deserved as neither team should have lost this epic encounter.
Selkirk gaffer Ian Fergus was angry about the additional five minutes referee Ryan Lee played. He said: “I have no idea where the extra five minutes came from – there were only two substitutions and no injuries during the game.
“My players are also telling me it wasn’t a corner, the ball went out for a throw.
“We’re all disappointed but it was still a very good game of football with both sides committed to winning. All credit to Gala for keeping going to the end as it looked like we’d done enough to win.”
The Fairydean Rovers almost edged in front inside the second minute as Ross Aitchison shaved the bar with a header from Des Sutherland’s corner.
Aitchison also had a claim for a penalty 10 minutes later after being shouldered off the ball by Ricky Millar inside the area.
But Selkirk looked the hungrier with the impressive Unpha Koroma orchestrating counter attacks from deep.
The former Stoke City player linked up well with Kerr Scott to force a good save from Kieran Wright just after the quarter hour.
A little more composure from Scott approaching the half hour, when he had both Phil Addison and Fraser Neave to square to, would likely have seen Selkirk take the lead. Addison did smash a low shot into the side netting a few minutes later and just before the break Koroma’s powerfully drilled low cross was tipped away by Wright.
Gala emerged for the second half with more purpose and Stuart Noble should have done better than scuff a shot straight at Gregor Amos following good work from Lee Stephen. Addison and Scott both forced saves at the other end as Fergus’s team continued to counter from deep.
But it was the Fairydean Rovers who were looking the most likely to take the lead as the half wore on. Sutherland flashed the ball across the face of the goal and Stephen dragged a shot a foot wide. Billy Miller also forced a good save from Amos with a powerful effort from 30 yards. And an inswinging Sutherland corner somehow ended up in the arms of Amos after bouncing around the six yard area. But Selkirk still looked dangerous, and only a lunging recovery tackle from Windram prevented Addison going in on goal.
The breakthrough arrived in the 80th minute with Addison expertly trapping a long, diagonal ball from Murray Christie before composing himself and firing past Wright from 12 yards. It was a moment of brilliance worthy of winning any game. Gala responded with Aitchison heading a Stephen cross against the outside of the post and Noble scooping the ball over the bar after turning well in front of goal. Selkirk’s hard-working defence looked to have held on as the injury time minutes ticked away. But inside the 95th minute a long hopeful ball from deep in the Gala half was deflected out. And from the resultant corner Windram rose well to power an unstoppable header past Amos.
Relieved Fairydean Rovers manager Steven noble said: “You go into the 94th and 95th minute just hoping you’ll get one last chance and we did.
“Selkirk worked hard for the whole match and they were the better team in that first half, but I thought we were the better team in the second half and deserved the goal when it came."
“It was a good game of football and a draw was probably the right result.”
Border Telegraph Man of the Match: George Windram
Gala Fairydean Rovers: K Wright, L Stephen, L Swaney (S Bonnington 63), S Main, G Windram, R Aitchison, B Miller, S Pringle, S Noble, D Sutherland & S Paliczka.
Selkirk. G Amos, M Christie, C Sheridan, A Fleming, R Millar, R King, U Koroma, K Scott (M Donaghue 87), F Neave, P Addison & M Collin.