Vale of Leithen 0
Gala F’dean Rovers 1
The Scottish Cup came to Victoria Park on the same weekend as the Innerleithen Music Festival, the tie soundtracked by the dulcet tones of folk singers coming from a neighbouring venue, writes Dave Ryce.
But by full-time, it was Gala who were singing the praises of super-sub Grant Robinson as he fired a winner in the dying stages to put the visitors in the hat for the first round.
While the Netherdale men were pre-match favourites to progress and struck the woodwork twice before netting the decider, it was a sore one for the home side who put in a stirring performance and had their opponents on the ropes for long spells, despite having to play almost an hour of the match with 10 men.
The league meeting between the sides that had taken place 10 days previously resulted in a rather comfortable win for Gala and was notable for the way in which they had dominated midfield.
But on this occasion they found it hard going against a fired-up and well-organised Vale side.
A cracking shot by Daryl Devlin that thumped off the underside of the bar was the closest the game got to a goal in the first half, but the visitors had to withstand a few scares before a red card changed the complexion of the game in the 34th minute. There didn’t look that much in John Ferguson’s challenge on David Bonnar, but referee Scott Lambie reached straight for a red card.
Going a man down is pretty simple arithmetic – it means the remaining players just have to give 10 per cent more, but the Vale players seemed to find an extra 15 per cent.
Gala came close again to grabbing an opener when Devlin shot against the post and as Jamie Gibson followed up to claim the rebound, he somehow failed to connect with the ball properly and the effort was an easy pick-up for Vale keeper Mark Wilson. It was easy to forget Vale were a man short as they piled forward, with Jason Stevens heading narrowly over after a goalmouth scramble and Gala keeper John Dodds making a double block from Josh Morris.
And only a fantastic last-ditch tackle from Paul Hossack prevented Vale’s Ryan Scanlan being through on goal with only Dodds to beat.
But in injury time, Gala launched an attack which saw Robinson hook a shot from the edge of the area that eluded the grasp of Wilson and found the corner of the net.
z Visit our website, www.the southernreporter.co.uk, to see video of post-match interviews with both managers.