Dons’ Gala display ‘shows how much Borders have to do’

Gala Fairydean v Aberdeen.'Gala's Billy Miller up against Stephen O'Neill of Aberdeen.
Gala Fairydean v Aberdeen.'Gala's Billy Miller up against Stephen O'Neill of Aberdeen.
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Gala Fairydean Under-19s 0

Aberdeen Under-19s 14

SFA YOUTH CUP THIRD ROUND

Kenny Paterson reports from Albert Park

HIS spelling may not be up to scratch, but captain Clark Robertson and his Aberdeen team-mates can certainly play football.

The Scotland Under-19 left back could well have informed his Twitter followers by mobile phone that his side had thumped “galaferadine” while playing on the heavy Albert Park pitch, such was the ease of Aberdeen’s victory.

For Fairydean coach Ally McCulloch, the defeat emphasised how much more needs to be done by his club – and Borders football – to catch up with the rest of Scotland.

He told TheSouthern: “We have some decent players at East of Scotland level, but my ambition is for lads to go from this club to a higher level. If that is going to be the case, we are going to have to radically think about how we develop players at a younger age.

“Aberdeen are a top team and I have no doubt they could win their league [the SPL under-19s]. There is no shame for our boys today but they have to learn lessons from it and decide how they develop from here.”

The margin of the win should have been no surprise – Gala’s mix of students and school pupils were taking on an Aberdeen side including three players who have featured for the first team – Robertson, fellow defender and fellow Scotland undr-19 star Jack Grimmer and the lightening fast winger Ryan Fraser.

Another Scotland youth cap, Cameron Smith, started up front, while Scotland under-16s captain Craig Storie didn’t make it off the bench.

This was the equivalent of Stuart Little taking on King Kong, and the ruthless Aberdeen team showed their hosts no mercy.

The visitors were ahead after five minutes when Declan McManus headed home Stephen O’Neill’s cross.

It was 13 minutes – a huge wait bearing in mind how many they scored – before the Reds’ next, thanks partly to some great goalkeeping from the Dean’s Aaron Lynch.

However, he was helpless when McManus headed home his second on 18 minutes.

Gala’s only shot on target in the match was created in the 24th minute by Jack Hay, whose goal in the previous round knocked out Stranraer. The striker bamboozled internationalist Grimmer before his left-foot shot was well saved by Przemyslaw Lukasik.

A minute later, however, the tie was over as Andy Stavert fouled McManus in the penalty box and Conor Devaney – who hails from Berwick – dispatched the spot kick.

Right winger Fraser, whose skill, speed and physique were reminiscent of Celtic’s James Forrest, added a fourth goal 10 minutes before the break while McManus completed a hat-trick of first-half headers in the 39th minute.

Fitness as well as skill told in the second half as the Pittodrie club notched nine further goals.

McManus ended up with five after adding a second-half brace, with additional strikes from O’Neill (2), substitute Dean Carse (2), Grimmer, Craig Murray and a Jamie Masson penalty.

Former Dons and St Mirren defender Neil Cooper, now Aberdeen under-19s coach, said: “We showed the Gala boys the same respect we show Rangers, Celtic, Hibs or Hearts. The pitch was really soft but some of the football we played on that surface was fantastic.

“Their goalkeeper had three or four good saves early on and they could have scored to make it 2-1.

“But hopefully the Gala supporters appreciated seeing a good, young Aberdeen team.”

Gala Fairydean: A. Lynch, S. Martin, M. Fairburn, C. McBride, D. Leckie, A. Stavert (F. Myer 54), C. Macdonald, A. Swailes (D. Bolton 81), J. Hay, B. Miller, S. Keith-Shaulz (J. Loftus 74).