John Dodds believes Gala Fairydean Rovers are equipped for the step up to senior football – thanks to the improving standard of the Lowland League.
The experienced goalkeeper played only the first half in a friendly win over junior team Edinburgh United, arranged at short notice after Gala’s league game at Broomhill was called off.
While Gala have not been able to maintain their early season form which saw them lead the Lowland League in August, the ex-East Fife and Ayr United stopper says the club is still heading in the right direction.
Dodds said: “Everything is in place at the club to compete in the senior leagues and everyone is working hard to progress as a team.
“You only need to look at the Scottish Cup results to see Spartans are one game from the quarter-finals, and other Lowland League clubs such as Edinburgh City competed well. I think the gap is closing.
“We have been really unlucky this season with injuries to key players such as Sean Paliczka. If we have a full squad it creates more competition and pushes all the players, but that has not been the case. We just want to finish the season as high up the league as possible.”
Netherdale’s 3G surface proved its worth again on a foul day in the Borders which caused all Lowland League and East of Scotland games to be called off.
Despite being a friendly, this was a competitive enough game against a team which sits second in the East Premier League, one division below where junior giants Bonnyrigg Rose and Linlithgow Rose operate.
Gala boss Stevie Noble gave Ashley Langford a rare start and the forward should have scored early on after good work on the wing by Billy Miller, only to screw the ball wide from six yards.
But Langford made amends by starting the move which led to Jamie Gibson scoring on 29 minutes with a low shot beyond former Vale of Leithen goalkeeper Sinclair Inglis.
Yet, it was another ex-Vale man who equalised for United 10 minutes before the break. Kayne Paterson looked the visitors’ best player and he punished slack home defending to skip past a few challenges and sidefoot past Dodds.
Another two former Vale men, Ross Aitchison and Keith Lough, now wear Gala colours and both hit the woodwork for the hosts either side of half-time.
Instead, it was United who went ahead on 63 minutes when Paterson squeezed a shot under substitute goalie Steven King for his second goal. But late strikes from Langford and Dean McColm gave Fairydean Rovers a much-needed win ahead of a tough encounter at in-form Gretna this weekend.