Gala Fairydean Rovers got back to winning ways with an emphatic six-nil derby hammering of a Vale of Leithen side who played the last twenty-five minutes with ten men following player-manager Chris Anderson’s dismissal just twenty minutes after coming on.
The first thirty minutes of the game passed by without many notable incidents, with Patrick Martin’s save after twenty-five minutes to keep out Liam Ireland the only real piece of goalmouth action to speak of. The game sparked into life soon after, with former Vale player Tommy Patterson, who was supposed to start on the bench but was called upon when Dale Baxter sustained an injury in the warm-up, striking the bottom of the left-hand post from the edge of the box.
Gala took the lead with thirty-six minutes gone, through a familiar source. The ball was crossed into the box, and the ever-clinical Ruari Paton planted his feet well and steered a looping header over Kieran Beveridge from twelve yards out.
Many may have been content to go into the break simply holding any advantage available, but the home side gained a two-goal-cushion just three minutes before the interval, thanks to Tommy Patterson. Sandy Cunningham zipped a wonderful ball into the feet of the former Vale man, and he showed excellent feet to beat the defender before slamming a good strike beyond the reach of Beveridge.
Any glimmer of a fightback from Anderson’s men was put firmly to bed four minutes after half time, with Cunningham and Patterson again heavily involved. The former picked up the ball well on the left wing and sent in a beautiful cross to the back post, which Patterson controlled well and lashed the ball into the net from close range.
Patterson wrapped up his hattrick against his former side with an hour gone, following a smart quick-free kick from Ruari Paton. Sean McKirdy was fouled just inside the Vale half, and Paton showed excellent awareness to spot the run of Patterson and came up with an excellent ball to match it, putting the winger one-on-one with the keeper. The former Vale man did the rest, placing the ball calmly beyond the keeper.
Chris Anderson had subbed himself on at halftime, but he had clearly seen enough, picking up two yellows in twenty minutes before being sent off with sixty-five minutes gone.
Sean McKirdy almost got in on the goal scoring action with seventy-five minutes gone, but a fine reaction stop from Beveridge kept the diminutive midfielder off the scoresheet.
There was to be no such heroics from the keeper two minutes later, as the impressive Sandy Cunningham angled a beautiful reverse pass through the defence and into the run of Patterson, who once again slotted home with ease while one-on-one with Beveridge.
Phil Addison made his long-awaited competitive debut for Gala in the eighty-fifth minute, signalling an end to a six-month injury hell for the forward. He made it a debut to remember six minutes later, with Darren Smith channelling his inner Andres Iniesta to scoop a wonderful through ball over the defence with the outside of his foot and set Addison through, and he coolly chipped the ball over the onrushing Beveridge from the edge of the box.
GFR: Martin, Stevenson, Main, Donaldson, Miller (Watson 16’), Smith ©, Cunningham, McKirdy, O’Reilly, Paton (Addison 85’), Patterson (Temple 80’).