Annan pushed all the way by Fairies

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Gala Fairydean 1

Annan Athletic 3


KEVIN JANIAK reports from Netherdale

GALA Fairydean may have lost on Saturday, but as pre-season matches go, it was a good outcome for the team that just lost out on promotion to the East of Scotland Premier Division last term.

The style of play shown by both teams was a delightful surprise, while the Borderers more than matched their Third Division opponents – who will take on the Rangers Newco team this season – in open play.

Annan did deserve the win, but their goals were down to more ring-rustiness of the Fairies rather than the expected gulf of class given the distance in leagues between the two sides.

Indeed, it was pretty level for the first quarter of an hour, until Annan’s David Murray slipped in a cross for Michael Daly to head home the opener beyond keeper John Nisbet – on loan from Peebles Rovers as Elliot Turnbull was on holiday.

Both Murray and Daly were signed this summer from Queen’s Park and they certainly work well together,

After Gala’s Grant Gass, who looks sharper every year, hit a deflected shot just past the post, Annan got their second. Scott Chaplain’s cheeky wee through ball was picked up by former Dunbarton striker Graham Ramage, who had just come off the subs’ bench to round the keeper with his first touch and score with his second.

Into the second half, Ramage had a near miss before Daly got his second from a Ramage pass to make it 3-0.

The Fairies had had enough and concentrated on getting back in the game.

Scott Nightingale forced a save from Annan’s sub keeper Greig Thorburn before Jack Hay lit up the crowd with a well-worked goal.

The youngster – top scorer in last season’s Scottish Cup competition with six goals – found himself in the opposition box and struck out square, tapping the ball in the direction of Phil Addison.

He drew the keeper before giving Hay the honour of stroking the ball into the empty net.

They had chances to restore parity. With time running out, Hay hit the woodwork from range and Earlston lad Addison – who Gala boss Fraser Lothian would love to sign, but has to wait to see how he gets on at a trial for Berwick Rangers this week – fired just over from 25 yards.

It was a pretty good second half for the Fairies overall, and it was one that pleased manager Lothian.

He told us: “The first half is always the hardest against senior teams, but I was fairly happy with our performance over the 90 minutes.

“We have only been training for two weeks and Annan were a bit sharper. But these are the type of teams we want to play ahead of the new season.”

Gala Fairydean: J. Nisbet, M. Fairbairn, P. Young, G. Lothian, P. Sutherland (C. Jeffrey 63 mins), G. Gass, P. Addison, J. Wilson (B. McGregor 57 mins), G. Rossi, S. Nightingale (D. Bonnar 57 mins) and J. Hay.