Gala F’Dean Rovers3
Stevie Noble paid tribute to centre half Craig McBride for a commanding performance against Preston Athletic despite the youngster being involved in a car crash days before the game.
The Gala Fairydean Rovers boss was delighted with his team’s showing in the first game of their Lowland League Cup Group A campaign, in particular 19-year-old McBride who suffered a back injury in an accident which saw his car skid off the A7 road near Heriot and hit a telegraph pole.
Noble told TheSouthern: “It is testament to Craig that he declared himself fit for the game because it was touch and go with the injuries he received in the accident.
“It was quite a serious crash but I thought he was immense in the game, as was Fraser Forrest.”
Gala are quickly turning into knockout specialists, having won their last four cup ties in three different tournaments, in spite of a poor league record.
Noble added: “We are confident of beating anyone on the day, especially here at Netherdale.
“The 3G pitch allows us to play the style of football we want to play. We have a good group of Borders players and today they showed how good they are.”
Gala had suffered 4-1 and 5-2 defeats to Preston already this season, so it was a shock to see the homesters race into a 2-0 lead within 15 minutes.
It was an even bigger surprise to see Callum Jardine bag both, with the winger having rarely been a goal threat this term. Yet, both strikes were quality finishes by any striker’s standards.
He put the homesters ahead after just four minutes with a fantastic weaving run and calm finish beyond Athletic goalkeeper John Gilbertson.
And he then punished poor Preston defending with another composed finish from 12 yards out.
Preston had a great chance to pull themselves back into the game on 43 minutes when Allan Nicol’s intercepted pass saw Sean Martin set up strike partner Paul Devlin but he somehow missed from six yards out.
Stuart Noble made it three on 58 minutes as he turned marker Kevin Morrison with ease and fired home. Brian Foster smacked the Gala crossbar with a header but Sean Martin’s smart finish made it 3-1 with 23 minutes to go.
Substitute Jamie Gibson should have restored the three-goal lead after Stuart Noble was fouled to earn a penalty, but Gibson could only pull his spot kick wide.
But Gala held on comfortably against their East Lothian opponents, who ended the match with ten men when hothead sub Michael Osbourne was sent off for two bookings within 30 seconds in injury time, both for dissent to referee Paul Reid.