Gala Fairydean Rovers 2, Dalbeattie Star 4
Gala FR suffered their first defeat of 2017 on Saturday at the hands of a familiar foe.
Dalbeattie Star’s Lewis Sloan is one of the Lowland League’s best players when on form and, when the former Stenhousemuir and Queen of the South player faces Fairydean Rovers, he almost always scores.
It was the same story at Netherdale on Saturday, as he bagged a crucial double to take his tally to seven goals in eight Lowland League meetings with Gala.
But Stevie Noble’s men were also a touch unlucky, with George Windram declared ill before the game, Scott Main injured in the first half and Darren Smith sent off in the closing stages.
It means they will likely be missing a number of regulars for another tough clash against BSC Glasgow.
Noble said: “Scott and Darren will likely be missing from the BSC Glasgow game, along with David Bonnar, who is still injured, so we may need to try to bring other personnel in to boost the squad.
“We beat BSC in the first game of the season but they are a good side who will provide a real test.”
Gala were aiming for Dalbeattie’s fourth spot in the Lowland League table after jumping to eighth, thanks to a four-game unbeaten run.
But it was clear from kick-off that Star are a decent outfit and, after Gala’s on-loan Rangers defender Jason Krones made a brilliant block, with Steven Degnan about to score, the impressive Liam Park set up James Baty for a neat backheel finish to opening the scoring.
And the second goal came four minutes before half time. With centre-half Main lying injured on the pitch, a simple long ball by Dean Brotherston – one of three on-loan Queen of the South players who made their Star debuts on Saturday – allowed Degnan plenty time to lob Dodds.
The game appeared finished when Sloan bundled in Park’s cross to make it 3-0 just after half time, and Sloan almost made it four when his free kick hit the post.
But Gala rallied, with captain Billy Miller bundling the ball into the net after Vinny Parker failed to hold Ross Aitchison’s 20-yard effort, and then Aitchison headed home to set up a dramatic final 10 minutes.
The comeback did not last long, though, as Sloan scored his second of the game with a brilliant free kick with six minutes left.
Smith then picked up his second booking, despite appearing accidentally to foul his own team-mate, rather than a Dalbeattie player, to put an end to Gala’s unbeaten run.
Gala Fairydean Rovers: J. Dodds, L. Stephen, L. Swaney (S. Bonnington 61), S. Main (S. Pringle 43), J. Krones, B. Miller, D. Smith, R. Aitchison, S. Noble, D. Sutherland, S. Paliczka.