Gala Fairydean 1
Berwick Rangers Reserves 3
EoS FIRST DIVISION
JOHN CLAYTON reports from Netherdale
NEITHER of these sides had played a competitive match for more than a month and the players’ hunger for real action was evident in a fast, engrossing affair.
Almost from the start, Berwick appeared to have the edge on the hosts, who were always at full stretch.
Josh Morris had the first opportunity for the Reserves when he picked up a poor pass from Paul Young before shooting and seeing his first shot blocked, but Gala goalie Elliot Turnbull had to pull off a good save from his second effort.
Greg Smith then volleyed into the side-netting when a looping cross from the left cleared the onrushing Andy Brown and fell perfectly for him to strike first time.
Gala, too, had their chances. Reserves’ keeper Asher Tufail beat Jack Hay to another long through ball and Berwick then dealt with three Fairydean corners in a row despite Tufail dropping the last one.
Towards the end of the first half, Fairydean came more into the match, with Marc Berry chasing to win a ball that resulted in a succession of corners.
Gary Lothian headed just wide from the second of these.
Just when it appeared that the teams would go in for the interval all square, a bad pass from Stewart Davidson was intercepted. Rangers then proceeded to set up Kenny O’Brien through a series of slick passes for him to shoot home, although Turnbull did get a hand to the shot.
Gala bagged a leveller immediately after the resumption when Scott Nightingale flicked the ball into the path of Jack Hay, whose shot beat the Berwick keeper.
But parity was short-lived. A chip towards the Gala far post was deflected by Turnbull into the path of the backtracking Davidson, who could not avoid putting the ball into his own net.
A couple of good chances were missed by Gala’s Hay, but most of the second-half play was inside Fairydean territory.
Jamie Doris ended a determined individual run with a pass meant for Josh Morris, which bounced away from him, but on 77 minutes, the latter tucked away Smith’s low cross to make it 3-1 before Smith forced Turnbull into a leaping save at his near post.
The Reserves passing game on the dry 3G surface had paid dividends.
As one local radio reporter commented, this win was down to a combination of skill and hard work.
Gala Fairydean: E. Turnbull, S. Davidson (C. Jeffrey), A. Brown, P. Young, G. Lothian, G. Gass, B. Miller, J. Wilson, J. Hay, S. Nightingale, M. Berry.