A dead heat in the bitter cold

Gala Fairydean Rovers 1, Edinburgh University 1

Thursday, 20th December 2018, 8:00 am
Updated Thursday, 20th December 2018, 8:01 am
Gala FR's Ricky Miller, number five, helps to clear the ball away from his side's goalmouth (picture by Alwyn Johnston).

There was only one winner from this fixture on Saturday – the weather.

Driving sleet and hail pounded both teams, with the occasional bout of football breaking out in the testing conditions.

In a game in which neither team dominated, the home side took an early lead through Ruari Paton after just seven minutes.

Great play by Sean McKirdy in midfield set up Sandy Cunningham, who elegantly dinked the ball goalwards over Mark Tait.

It was almost certainly bound for the net but Paton showed his killer instinct to latch on to it anyway and make totally sure of the goal.

Another chance arrived for the hosts with 24 minutes on the clock and, like many times over the recent months, Paton and McKirdy were again heavily involved.

Tommy Patterson had a key role too, with his quick feet working space well to slide in Paton.

He cut the ball back to stand-in captain McKirdy on the edge of the box but he pulled his angled shot wide of Tait’s right-hand post.

Gala could have stretched their lead through the impressive Cunningham but a super save from Tait kept the ball at bay with 35 minutes played.

After the half-hour mark the conditions began rapidly to take hold, with the hail gathering visibly on the playing surface and slowing the game down significantly.

Edinburgh Uni didn’t seem to mind and they equalised on the stroke of half time with a relatively simple goal from Stuart McNichols.

A low cross from the left flank landed at the feet of the unmarked McNichols, who stroked the ball home from close range with ease.

The referee conducted a pitch inspection during the half-time interval but he concluded the game was still playable and ordered the teams back out.

Chances were at a premium in a forgettable second half, with the majority of the goalmouth action coming in the closing stages.

Patrick Martin made a key stop to deny Abdul Yusuf from close range, while Finn Daniels-Yeoman blasted the ball mere inches wide of his goal a few minutes later.

Up the other end, Sean McKirdy worked space very well with just five minutes to play but his excellent, rasping drive was kept out through an excellent piece of goalkeeping from Tait, who was in inspired form.

The game finished in a draw, which neither team could really complain about.

This means Gala FR and Edinburgh Uni remain ninth and eighth in the table respectively, with just two points separating the sides.

This Saturday, Gala FR are due to travel to Forthbank to face another student side, the University of Stirling, with a 3pm kick off.