Gala Fairydean 5
Eyemouth United 3 (aet – 3-3 after 90 minutes)
KING CUP FIRST ROUND
KENNY PATERSON reports from Netherdale
IT IS Netherdale for thrills this season, as Gala Fairydean were involved in another, dramatic, high-scoring game.
A total of 55 goals have been scored in 11 games on the synthetic surface in 2012/13 so far, with Saturday’s King Cup tie surely one of the most exciting so far.
There were eight goals, including five for Gala marksman Jack Hay, and eight cards, among them a crucial extra-time red for Eyemouth’s George Windram, which gave the hosts the advantage to edge through.
Gala boss Garry Fraser was delighted to see his team end a run of five games without a win, despite missing six players.
He said: “The most important thing for me is not getting through in the cup, but ending the run of losses.
“We put in a good performance and should have been four or five up at the break.
“We lost two goals at the start of the second half, but picked ourselves up and responded well.”
As well as having a squad of just 14, including Fraser himself on the bench, Gala were playing for the first time without Paul Young following his move to become player/manager at Stow.
However, The Dean were boosted by the return of youngsters Mike Fairburn and Brad Lochrie, and both made impressive contributions.
Gala were deservedly ahead on eight minutes when another teenager, Billy Miller, set up Hay to score from close range.
Wasteful finishing and great goalkeeping from Adam Mutch meant Gala remained only one ahead at the break.
Hay could have had a first-half hat-trick, but spurned two superb openings, while Andrew Brown’s thunderbolt of a shot was brilliantly tipped over by Mutch.
Eyemouth’s best effort was a Mark Bolton free kick which found the side netting, while James Wilson sliced a shot wide when unmarked 10 yards out.
But just 120 seconds after half-time, The Fishermen were level as Bolton’s diving header found the net. And Steven Shennan’s lob over Gala goalkeeper Elliot Turnbull on 59 minutes put Eyemouth on the road to another win at Netherdale, having beaten Gala 3-1 in the league last month.
Yet, Gala’s attitude was far better on this occasion, and Hay led the comeback with a superb run and finish on 63 minutes.
Hay completed his hat-trick with a deflected 20-yard effort which looped into the top corner 21 minutes from full-time.
The hosts looked comfortable, but two minutes from time Gala’s defence did its best impression of Rangers’ backline by allowing Scott Adamson loads of time and space to control the ball and score.
So to extra time, and Hay was once again in the middle of the action as he was pulled down by Windram on 94 minutes when bearing down on goal, leaving referee Duncan Smith with a simple decision to send the centre-half off.
Gala had to wait until 38 seconds into the second half of extra time to take the lead, as Miller’s perfect pass found Hay to round Mutch for 4-3.
And the tattooed talent sealed the win with an identical goal on 114 minutes.
Fraser added: “Jack Hay will get the headlines for the five goals, but the two centre midfielders were fantastic. I thought Billy Miller was outstanding and he ran the show.
“Stuart Anderson was great at the back and Mikey Fairburn played four positions and never let us down.”
Gala Fairydean: E. Turnbull, S. Anderson, A Brown, G. Lothian, D. Bowie , G. Gass, J. Wilson (D. Boyne 45), B. Miller, J. Hay, S. Nightingale (B. Lochrie 65), M. Fairburn.