UNIVERSITY OF STIRLING 1
GALA FAIRYDEAN ROVERS 3
FERARRI PACKAGING LOWLAND LEAGUE
FOR the first time since the Lowland League was formed four years ago, Gala Fairydean Rovers managed to secure three points against the students from Stirling. But it was the manner of the performance which was the most pleasing aspect of the Braw Lads display at the Falkirk Stadium on Saturday. A goal down after just 115 seconds against Stirling, GFR came storming back and produced a controlled display against one of the best teams in the league.
The home team played a long ball over the top which the Gala defence could not handle and Kieran Hall slipped the ball past Lewis Muir. But after that it was all GFR and it just took eight minutes before they were on level terms.
Adam Watson, on loan from Hibs, played in his Easter Road colleague Jamie Gullan who drifted past his marker before slotting home. Scott Main had a header cleared off the line, Stuart Noble rattled the side netting and Darren Smith went close with a long range effort as the visitors dominated the proceedings. Three minutes before the interval Stirling were reduced to 10 men when Lewis Hunter was red-carded for a reckless challenge on Gala defender Sean Guiney.
After the break it was all Gala and it was only a matter of time before they took the lead. Darren Smith saw another long range effort cannon back off the post in the 51st minute before GFR edged ahead 60 seconds later. David Bonnar's powerful volley looked to be heading towards the top corner but it struck a Stirling defender and soared into the air. Noble held off a couple of defenders and when the ball returned to ground level, he swirled and tucked it into the bottom corner of the net.
On the hour mark Gala sealed the victory. Smith's corner from the left picked out Guiney at the far post and his volley was just about to cross the line before Noble made sure with the tap in. Watson also had the ball in the net a few minutes later but Noble was adjudged to have been offside in the build-up in what was a borderline decision.
The Stirling keeper Kevin Walker produced a couple of top-drawer saves to prevent Watson and Smith getting on the scoresheet. Sean Paliczka and teenagers Gavin and David Brown were introduced to the fray with the visitors content to play out the closing stages by keeping possession against the 10 men who rarely threatened.
Gala manager Steven Noble said: "I thought we dominated the game. "Even before they were reduced to 10 men we were well on top.
"To lose a goal after just a minute was very disappointing but the players responded. "In fact I thought it was a great all-round team performance in what proved to be an historical win as it is the first time in our history we have beaten them in the league. "Some of our football played at times was breathtaking."
Gala Fairydean Rovers: Muir, Stephen, Miller, Main, Guiney, Bonnar, Smith, Craigie, Noble, Gullan and Watson.
Subs: G.Brown, Scott, D.Brown, Paliczka.