Battling Fairies get the cup monkey off their backs in win

Spectacular attempt on goal from Gala against Eyemouth Utd at Eyemouth.
Spectacular attempt on goal from Gala against Eyemouth Utd at Eyemouth.

Eyemouth 1

Gala Fairydean 3

EoS LEAGUE CUP FIRST ROUND

KEVIN JANIAK reports from Warner Park

THE Moon did not turn a peculiar shade of blue and porcine farm animals did not grow wings and take off, but Gala Fairydean won a cup match.

At first glance, it seems their record of going five seasons without a win in any cup competition seems poor to say the least, but it is fair to say they have not had the luck of the draw.

Without fail, they have been tied to play some of the best teams in the Premier Division, more often than not away from home. They have taken these teams to the wire on several occasions, forcing matches to extra time, yet they have not been able to cross the gap between divisions.

Eyemouth may not be in the Premier Division, but this tie did not come at the best of times for the Netherdale men, coming only two weeks after a 5-2 league drubbing at the hands of the Fishermen, also at Warner Park, which effectively killed off any hopes they had of being promoted.

So the Dean started second favourites on Saturday, even though key players Chris Anderson, Paul Sutherland and John Waldie made their return to the side.

The visitors had the strong wind at their backs as they kicked off – keeper Elliot Turnbull being instructed to at least get his kick-outs on target because they had little chance of connecting with anyone between him and the other end of the park.

But it was at corners where the real danger came from – the gales providing a naturally wicked inswing – and that’s how the Dean opened the scoring.

Anderson had a couple of chances before the opener in the 10th minute – one of them also coming off a corner that hit the crossbar – but Eyemouth keeper Stephen Mason couldn’t do anything but help the ball into the net as Anderson swooped his corner kick into the area.

Two minutes later, however, Eyemouth equalised. Paul Sutherland gave away a free kick, which was headed down by Keiran Ainsley to Stuart Coyle, who tucked the ball away from close range.

Ten minutes from half time, Gala were back in front. Jonny Simpson was lucky to escape at least a booking when tactically taking down Dean’s Craig Gow in the box. Referee Paul Hanlon did award a penalty, however, and Anderson made no mistake from the spot, sending Mason the wrong way.

The second half was a scrappy affair with Eyemouth, almost as a man, leading into any challenge with elbows flying. One such incident ensured Gala’s livewire midfielder Keith Boyes had to play the rest of the game with an absurd, ever-growing bandage on his head after picking up a cut above his eye.

The Fairies were under the cosh as they struggled to make headway into the wind, and Eyemouth rained shot after shot on the goal, but the defence held firm.

And when visitors got their short passing game working, they began to make some forays into the Eyemouth half and Aaron Brunton made sure of their progress in the 70th minute, tapping Anderson’s cross into the empty net.

Gala had the best of the chances before the end, Anderson’s chip which went just wide left being the pick of the bunch.

Fairydean boss Fraser Lothian didn’t want to dwell on the fact that his team had just ended their long cup match drought, but was understandably delighted to have progressed to the next round, where they play First Division high-flyers Leith Athletic at home.

He told TheSouthern: “We have run teams such as Spartans close this year, but it was good to get a win today.

“Warner Park is a hard place to come, it always is with the windy conditions, but we stuck to the task and handled the weather better than them.

“I would fancy us to win against anybody at home, and a late season cup run will do the club a world of good.”

Gala Fairydean: E. Turnbull, R. Slater, C. McBride, P. Sutherland, J. Waldie, K. Boyes, G. Hay, C. Tyson, C. Anderson, A. Brunton and C. Gow (D. Halley 88 mins).