GFR sluggishness puzzles boss

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Gala Fairydean Rovers 1

Dalbeattie Star 4

LOWLAND LEAGUE

KEVIN JANIAK reports from Netherdale

THREE matches into the new season, and Gala Fairydean Rovers have a single point to their name.

It’s certainly not the most stunning of starts, and the players have found it difficult to stamp their authority on the Lowland League, given the quality of the opposition.

And on Saturday, the gulf in class was fairly evident. The Fairies’ biggest problem at the moment lies at the back. They’ve leaked eight goals over the three games and most of them on Saturday were avoidable.

Their ability to react quickly to a quick break or a well-timed long ball allowed the sharper Dalbeattie players to take their chances, almost at a stroll.

Asked what was wrong, Gala boss Stevie Noble said: “I can’t put my finger on it. But we’ll get there. We’ll talk about it and work on some defensive aspects at training because we have lost too many cheap goals so far.”

Jamie Struthers opened the scoring in the 10th minute. He picked the ball up just inside the Gala half and set off on a looping run into the box and slipped the ball into the net past Dodds.

Struthers did look like Dalbeattie’s most dangerous player and Gala must have breathed a hesitant sigh of relief when he had to be subbed after taking a knock in the 24th minute, replaced by gangly ginger-headed Hugh Cameron.

Unfortunately for the home side, Cameron turned out to be even more dangerous than his predecessor.

He made it 2-0 after finding himself with the ball in space, and four minutes later he hit the third, winding his way in from the left and shooting home from an acute angle.

Jamie Gibson narrowed the gap from the spot after he was taken down by Dalbeattie’s Kevin Neilson, but the three-goal gap was reinstated, with Cameron again in the mix – his shot across goal looked as though it would sneak in at the left hand post, but Jack Steele made sure of the counter by nipping in and knocking it wide of the Gala keeper.

Gala were not completely outplayed. They did, indeed, enjoy a large amount of the ball and had several close encounters with the opposition goal. They were also the victims of a couple of very dodgy refereeing calls, onw of which saw Stuart Noble being taken down two yards inside the box, only to be given a free kick instead of a penalty, in an otherwise fairly uneventful second half.

However, for all Gala’s good points, it is certain that they need to shore up that back line so that all the good work they do elsewhere is not for naught.

Dalbeattie now top the new league, while Gala sit third from bottom. This early in the season, table positions are almost always false. Going by Saturday’s display, however, it feels about right.

Gala Fairydean Rovers: J. Dodds, A. Nicol, K. Collins, J. Inglis, C. McBride (R. Grant 53 mins), D. Bonnar, B. Miller (S. Paliczka 63 mins), M. Berry, S. Noble, J. Gibson and D. McColm (C. Jardine 63 mins).