Gaffer praises 10-man Gala Fairydean Rovers for picking up three points away to East Stirlingshire

Gala Fairydean Rovers manager Neil Hastings has praised the grit shown by his players to leave Falkirk with three points against East Stirlingshire on Saturday despite being a man down for a third of the game.

By Darin Hutson
Monday, 1st November 2021, 3:54 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd November 2021, 7:41 am
Marc Berry taking a shot for Gala Fairydean Rovers against East Stirlingshire on Saturday (Photo: Thomas Brown)
Marc Berry taking a shot for Gala Fairydean Rovers against East Stirlingshire on Saturday (Photo: Thomas Brown)

That 1-0 win over fifth-placed Shire, courtesy of an 18th-minute Ciaren Chalmers goal, lifts the Galashiels side up to eighth place in the Scottish Lowland Football League, with 26 points from 15 games, and Hastings is glad to see his side heading in the right direction even if he’d like to see them setting their sights higher still.

“I’m delighted to get back to winning ways in the league after a couple of weeks of cup games and losing last time out to Civil Service Strollers,” he said.

“I didn’t think we were at our fluid best but we got there, thanks to some solid defending and couple of good saves from Harris Spratt in goal.

Gala Fairydean Rovers gaffer Neil Hastiings celebrating at full-time after seeing his side beat East Stirlingshire 1-0 at the Falkirk Stadium (Photo: Thomas Brown) *** NOT FOR SYNDICATION ***

“It didn’t help that we had Sean Docherty sent off with about 30 minutes to go for a couple of yellow cards in quick succession. East Stirlingshire are a good side with good attacking players so even if it’s 11 versus 11 and they’re only one goal in it, they’re going to throw everything at you, and they did, but the players dug in and showed great spirit and we held out.”

Hastings is happy enough with the way the season is shaping up, he says, especially given the turnover among his squad at Netherdale in the summer, but can still see plenty of room for improvement.

"It’s small steps but we aim to make a bit of progress with every game,” he said.

“It’s quite a young group of players we’ve got, and we got eight or nine new ones in over the summer so there’s a lot of work to be done. It always takes time to get ideas across.

Zander Murray was available to play for Gala Fairydean Rovers against East Stirlingshire after having a red card a week earlier downgraded to yellow (Photo: Thomas Brown)

“I’m happy with the direction we’re going in but you always want to be better and win more games and get more points on the board.”

Next up for Rovers is a visit from Edinburgh University this coming Saturday, with kick-off at 3pm, and Hastings is warning his players not to be lulled into a false sense of security by the students’ lowly league position.

They’re currently fourth from bottom of the 18-team table with 13 points from 16 games, having drawn 4-4 at home to seventh-placed East Kilbride on Saturday, but that doesn’t give a full picture of the threat the capital side can pose, he said.

“Every game’s a challenge in this league,” said Hastings.

Gala Fairydean Rovers players celebrating Ciaren Chalmers' winning goal against East Stirlingshire at the Falkirk Stadium (Photo: Thomas Brown)

“Edinburgh University will be a different challenge to last weekend but they’re still going to challenge us.

“We’ve just got to concentrate on ourselves.

“They’ve just had a really good result against East Kilbride. That surprised quite a lot of people but not me as they turned over East Kilbride away last month and they held us to a 1-1 draw at theirs at the start of the season.

“They’ve got good attacking players and can cause you problems.

Gala Fairydean Rovers players celebrating Ciaren Chalmers putting them 1-0 up against East Stirlingshire (Photo: Scott Louden)

“We’ll just be hoping to deal with that and get a positive result and take another step forward.”

Gala were given a double boost ahead of their trip to the Falkirk Stadium with centre-forward Zander Murray’s red card the previous Saturday against St Cuthbert Wanderers being downgraded to a yellow on appeal, leading to his automatic suspension being lifted, and captain Gareth Rodger returning after three months out injured.

Ross Aitchison on the ball for Gala Fairydean Rovers against East Stirlingshire (Photo: Scott Louden)