Preston Athletic 3
Gala Fairydean 1
EoS FIRST DIVISION
KEVIN JANIAK reports from Pennypit Park
FAIRYDEAN threw away a 1-0 half-time lead at the Pennypit on Friday night, as Preston’s Kevin Cairnie rattled home a hot hat-trick.
The manner in which the Gala men failed to perform in the second half left assistant manager Ally McCulloch seething.
He told us: “In the first half, Preston were looking to get long passes forward early and pick up the second balls, and we handled that pretty well.
“But we gave Preston far too much respect in the second half and sat back off them.
“I genuinely felt there was something there for us. What it needed was for 11 players to roll their sleeves up and outcompete or neutralise their opposition. We simply didn’t do that.”
After Jack Hay went close with a couple of attempts, Gala went ahead with a peach of a goal. Aaron Brunton’s looped ball into the box was backheaded by Hay to Alan Jackson, and the former Kelso United man made no mistake with a cracking shot into the bottom left hand corner of the net.
Athletic proved they were dangerous in attack as Fraser Henderson made several telling angled runs into the box, but the delivery was found wanting.
The Fairies could have been further in front before the break, but Ross Gilpin saved brilliantly from Hay and Brunton.
After the interval, it was almost all Preston. Gala kept them out until just after the hour mark when substitute Bryan Wilson crossed to Cairnie who equalised with ease, Gala’s sole defender in the box, Ross Glass, left all at sea.
If that was a warning, it wasn’t heeded by the visitors as the same combination worked again for Preston’s second, Wilson’s long run into the box was followed by a cutback to the deadly Cairnie, who grabbed the lead.
Cairnie got his third from the spot after he was fouled in the box.
To make matters worse, Brunton received a straight red card for a needless challenge from behind on Henderson as time ran out.
It was a sour finish that was difficult to swallow for a few of the Gala players – and they weren’t happy when McCulloch told them what he thought of it.
He said: “I made my feelings very clear to the players.
“Some of them don’t take criticism very well. If they don’t like it, they can always find another club.”
Gala Fairydean: E. Turnbull G. Hay, R. Glass, P. Young, C. McBride, B. Hunter (R. Sclater 85 mins), J. Wilson, A. Jackson, A. Brunton, J. Hay and A. Brown.