GALA returned to winning ways on Saturday with one of their most impressive displays of the season. After a winless run of four matches, the victory and sparkling performance was welcomed by manager Neil Hastings.
He said: “I’m delighted for the players as they have worked so hard.
“We know how difficult this league and if you’re not at the top of your game you get punished.
“Today we were excellent and more than deserved the win – if we’d taken just one or two of those other chances we could have had the game won by half time.
“We showed that on our day we are a match for anyone in this league.”
Braves, who have their own top six finish in their sights, started brightly with Ben Daily’s fourth-minute lob drifting just wide of Fraser Morton’s goal. The home keeper also made a crucial double save to deny both Daily and Ross McNeil. But Gala, with the highly influential Danny Galbraith controlling midfield, soon began to turn the tide.
Marc Berry should have racked up a quickfire brace after mishitting a Zander Murray cross in front of goal, and just a few minutes later missing the target from five yards out after getting on the end of another Murray cross. Ross Aitchison also headed inches over and Galbraith shaved the far post with a powerful effort. The pressure eventually paid off in the 28th minute with Murray running onto Alex Chingwalu’s inch-perfect dink over the top to smash the ball inside Alex Marshall’s near post.
It took Gala only five further minutes to double the lead. Jacob Campbell intercepted a Braves freekick and although his initial shot was well saved, Murray pounced on the rebound to net from 15 yards out. Although Braves improved after the interval and enjoyed more of the ball, it was the home team who continued to create the best chances. Aitchison twice went close with headers before Murray was given a golden opportunity to pick up his first hat-trick since arriving at Gala from the penalty spot. Levi Kinchant was tripped inside the area with referee Ryan Lee immediately pointing to the spot. But Murray blasted his spot-kick against the post.
With nine minutes remaining, though, Gala did secure the victory. Tenacious play from Yrick Gallantes sent Aitchison down the flank and his cross was banged against the upright again by Murray, but this time the ball rebounded for Niall Kelly to slam it into the net. McNeill headed home a late consolation for the visitors.
And, with injury time approaching, there was a further set-back for the Fairydean Rovers as Murray was carried off after picking up an ankle injury.
But the celebrations on the final whistle were far from muted after an encouraging result and performance from the home team to lift eh supporters
Gala Fairydean Rovers. F Morton, L Grant (L Kinchant 59), A Chingwalu, B Herdman, G Rodger, R Aitchison, M Berry (Y Gallantes 66), N Kelly, A Murray (D Leddie 87) , D Galbraith & J Campbell.