It never rains, but it pours for Gala Fairydean Rovers

Galafairydean FC manager Steven Noble and captain Sean Paliczka on the bench at Netherdale.
Galafairydean FC manager Steven Noble and captain Sean Paliczka on the bench at Netherdale.
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Rovers manager Steven Noble hopes the signing of Fraser Forrest will shore up a porous defence which leaked five goals in the Prestonpans rain.

Noble believes the addition of the ex-Alloa Athletic centrehalf will make a “huge difference” to his side, and will add some much-needed experience to the current defensive line-up.

Craig McBride, Jason Inglis and Kyle Collins occupied the back three positions on Saturday, and while all three were not helped by their team-mates, they still struggled to contain Preston Athletic’s attacks.

Home manager David Bingham was alert enough to leave three forwards up against Gala’s backline, which, fittingly, was swamped on the muddy Pennypit Park.

However, the game may have been so different had Gala taken a great opportunity within a minute of kick-off. Dean McColm’s outstanding pass put Stuart Noble clean through, but Athletic stopper John Gilbertson smothered his shot 10 yards out.

But by just four minutes, Gala’s defensive fragility was exposed when Kevin Morrison was allowed time to bundle in Michael Osbourne’s free kick from close range.

Paul Devlin was millimetres away from extending the lead soon after, as Preston’s tactic of pushing three attackers onto Gala’s back three provided plenty of openings for the hosts.

Des Sutherland’s threaded pass almost set up Stuart Noble again, only for the alert Gilbertson to clear, but Preston were still the most threatening side and claimed a second with a fine Ryan Moore finish on 29 minutes.

And just two minutes before the break, Devlin made it 3-0 from a couple of yards out, despite claims he was offside from the visiting support.

Gala got off to the perfect start in the second half as Marc Berry dummied past right back Mark Stewart and crossed for Sean Paliczka to capitalise on a Gilbertson error in the 52nd minute.

But Fairydean Rovers were three goals behind again two minutes later, with referee Kyle Hall earning Gala’s wrath.

The whistler had already frustrated the visitors with a series of decisions in the match, and he angered Gala further when he failed to give a free kick for an apparent foul on Sutherland, allowing Preston to set up James Reilly for 4-1.

However, there was no blame attached to the referee for Preston’s fifth on 85 minutes. A pass back which Dodds was forced to pick up saw an indirect free kick for Preston, which resulted in Gary McCormack’s shot somehow making its way through a line of defenders. It was the 42nd goal Gala had conceded in just 12 Lowland League matches.

Paliczka bagged his second with two minutes left to provide a small degree of respectability to the scoreline.

Steven Noble said: “The back three are not totally to blame. We have been working on pressing teams quickly, but it didn’t work today.

“Preston were hungrier throughout the game and deserved the win.

“We can’t blame the referee. We failed to switch on and were looking for someone else to take responsibility.”

Of the Forrest signing, he added: “He has played senior football and is strong in the air and in the tackle. Fraser is still working on his fitness and won’t feature for a couple of weeks, but will make a huge difference.”

Gala Fairydean Rovers: J. Dodds, K. Collins, J. Inglis, M. Berry, C. McBride, D. Bonnar, A. Nicol (J. Gibson), D. McColm (C. Jardine), Stuart Noble, S. Paliczka, D. Sutherland.