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  • Liam Marshall





Gala Fairydean Rovers slumped to a disappointing 3-1 derby defeat to Vale of Leithen at Netherdale on Saturday. GFR can count themselves unlucky to lose, with many gilt-edged chances being passed up by the home side.

The home side started the game on top with Ross Aitchison forcing a block from Craig McBride, following good build-up play between Rhys Craigie and Lee Stephen on the right wing after eleven minutes. They kept up this pressure and captain Billy Miller had his powerful drive from twenty-five yards deflected over on eighteen minutes.

The first half lacked any real chances bar the two mentioned and the sides went in level at the break. The best chance of the game came on forty-eight minutes with Craig Heugh winning the ball well in midfield following a Vale goal kick and he drove forward into the open space ahead of him. Stuart Noble was with him and they were two-on-one with Craig McBride and Heugh squared the ball to Noble fifteen yards out. Noble elected shoot first time and his shot flew over the bar. This chance seemed to waken Vale from their stupor and substitute Shaun Stevens crashed a free header wide from six yards with fifty-four minutes on the clock.

Vale kept coming at GFR and they forced themselves into the lead after fifty-six minutes. The ball was crossed into the centre of the box from the right wing, and Kerr Allen seized on the hesitancy of the GFR central defenders to lash the ball home. The home side came within inches of an equalizer on sixty-three minutes, Sean Guiney's looping header from Miller's corner dropping like a stone onto the bar and bouncing for a goal kick. Guiney would again have a chance four minutes later with his shot from two yards going over under severe pressure from Vale keeper Ross Gilpin.

Vale extended their lead after seventy-six minutes, Shaun Stevens meeting a cross well to fire home from close range and all but secure the three points, barring something miraculous from the home side. Matthew Graham put any chance of a valiant comeback to bed with five minutes to play in spectacular fashion. He ghosted past two challenges on the right wing and smashed a wonderful shot emphatically into the top corner giving Lewis Muir no chance in the Gala net.

The home side did manage to grab a consolation goal in stoppage time through birthday boy Stuart Noble who gratefully fired in from point blank range following a corner that wasn’t fully cleared by the Vale rear-guard.

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