Kelso United 2
Gala Fairydean 1
EoS FIRST DIVISION
GEORGE RILEY reports from Woodside Park
PETER STUART was the name everyone was talking about after this local encounter at Woodside Park on Saturday.
The young referee must have had a quiet Saturday night in, filling in his report after brandishing his red card twice and yellow into double figures.
In what was far from a dirty game Fairydean ended the match with only nine players on the field.
The two teams started cagily and the opening few minutes were bogged down in midfield with no-one getting the upper hand.
However, that changed when United struck in the ninth minute. A long ball up the left was headed into the box by Jordan Lauder, where Gala keeper Elliot Turnbull and Des Burnett clashed and as the two scrambled, the ball broke to United’s Calum Webb, who stroked a left-footed shot into the net.
Kelso were beginning to dominate and on 20 minutes Turnbull had to come to the rescue for Gala when Burnett was released down the right by Webb, only for his shot at goal to be saved by the keeper’s legs.
This was followed by a Stuart Harker volley from a Lauder corner that sailed over the bar.
Gala’s best effort of the first half came on the half-hour mark when a cross from the right was met by Craig McBride.
The defender’s powerful header was going to sneak in just under the bar, but David Simmonds in the United goal did well to reach up and tip the ball over. Some good work in midfield by Gala pair Ross Glass and Geri Rossi set up a half-chance for Alan Jackson, but the no 7’s effort flew wide of the post.
Five minutes from the break, Gala went down to 10 men when Jay Wilson was shown a straight red for foul and abusive language after disagreeing with a decision made by referee Stuart. This put Fairydean on the back foot and on the stroke of half-time Burnett almost took advantage with a strong run down the right, only to be thwarted by Turnbull once more.
Kelso started the second half brightly and Turnbull was called into action again.
A cross into the box by Webb was headed on by Lauder into the path of Burnett, whose shot was well saved by the Gala keeper, diving to his left and pushing the ball round the post.
From the resultant corner, swung in by Lauder, Jamie Swailes rose to rattle the crossbar with a header.
United were pressing most of the time by now and Greg Hay cleared off the line when Turnbull half-saved a Burnett effort. The backspin on the ball took it towards goal, but the defender was on hand to knock it clear.
United got their second goal on the hour mark when a ball from John McCutcheon on the right found Burnett in space through the middle and the striker finally beat Turnbull with a powerful shot from just inside the box.
Ten minutes left and Gala came back to make it 2-1. The visitors were awarded a free kick just outside the box when Damien McNulty fouled Jack Hay.
Substitute Billy Miller stepped up and fired the free kick into the net, beating the United keeper and scoring his first goal for the Fairydean senior side.
Five minutes to go, Gala had a claim for a penalty when Steven Tait challenged Glass in the box, but Mr Stuart waved play on.
With a couple of minutes left, Gala went down to nine men when Jack Hay was shown his second yellow card.
Fairydean’s last throw of the dice was when a long ball from the left found Craig McBride at the back post, but the tall defender’s header went wide.
Gala manager Fraser Lothian said he was disappointed with the result and put it down to the midfield being unable to supply the front players with enough ball.
In contrast, Kelso boss Prof Blaikie was happy with the United performance and praised his players for the commitment shown through the game.
Kelso United: D. Simmonds, J. McCutcheon, S. Angus, S. Tait , S. Harker, D. McNulty, C. Webb (J. Milner), C. Tait (M. Lockhart), D. Burnett, J. Swailes, J. Lauder.
Gala Fairydean: E. Turnbull, G. Hay, A. Brown, P. Young, C. McBride, B. Hunter (B. Miller), A. Jackson (R. Sclater), J. Wilson, G. Rossi (R. Hewitson), J. Hay, R. Glass.