Gala Fairydean Rovers drawn against Annan Athletic again in Scottish Cup

Gala Fairydean Rovers have been drawn against another Dumfries and Galloway team after knocking out Kirkcudbright’s St Cuthbert Wanderers to go through to the next round of the Scottish Cup.

Monday, 25th October 2021, 1:35 pm
Updated Monday, 25th October 2021, 1:35 pm
Gala Fairydean Rovers players celebrating one of their three Scottish Cup second-round tie goals against St Cuthbert Wanderers (Photo: Thomas Brown)

The Galashiels side overcame going behind to their hosts at St Mary’s Park on Saturday and having centre-forward Zander Murray sent off to win 3-1 and set up a third-round tie at home to League Two’s Annan Athletic on or around Saturday, November 27.

That’s a rerun of the two sides’ first-round tie at Rovers’ Netherdale home ground last Boxing Day but Gala will be hoping history doesn’t repeat itself as they were beaten 2-1, ending their cup run and dashing their hopes of claiming a first-ever victory against Scottish Professional Football League opposition.

Annan are fourth in Scottish football’s fourth tier at the moment with 15 points from 10 games.

Lewis Grant on the ball for Gala Fairydean Rovers against St Cuthbert Wanderers (Photo: Thomas Brown)

Gareth Rodger was the hosts’ scorer that time round, with Aidan Smith and Jordan Lowdon netting for the visitors.

On the scoresheet for the Borderers, boosted by the arrival of teenage goalkeeper Harris Spratt on loan from Heart of Midlothian, on Saturday were Marc Berry on 35 minutes, Murray from the penalty spot just before half-time and Daryl Healy on 72 minutes. Thomas Kelly scored the hosts’ goal with 25 minutes played.

Gala manager Neil Hastings was impressed by the resilience shown by his side at the weekend to get through to the next round and is looking forward to coming up against Annan again, he says.

“Obviously that will be an extremely difficult game,” he said. “Annan have recuited very well this year and that’s reflected in their league form and position in the table, and I’d expect them to be at the top end of League Two come the end of the season.

Marc Berry celebrates after scoring against St Cuthbert Wanderers for Gala Fairydean Rovers at St Mary’s Park in Kirkcudbright (Photo: Thomas Brown)

“We’re looking forward to it, but we know it’s not going to be an easy game because of the quality they’ve got.”

Looking back at Saturday’s win, Hastings said: “First and foremost, we’re delighted to have got through.

“I knew they had good quality in certain areas of the pitch and that they’d make it a proper cup tie and it was.

“After losing the first goal and going a man down – and I thought it was a harsh red card, to be honest, having looked back at the match footage – we showed great team spirit and resilience to get back in it. That’s what we’re all about. We’re all together trying to get results, and there’s real hunger and desire there, so I was delighted for the players. It was a fantastic result.”

Gala Fairydean Rovers gaffer Neil Hastings after Saturday's victory (Photo: Thomas Brown)

Next up for Gala is a return to Scottish Lowland Football League duties this coming Saturday.

Rovers, currently 10th in the table with 23 points from 14 games, are off up to the Falkirk Stadium to take on fifth-placed East Stirlingshire, on 28 points from 16 games, and they’ll be looking to give a better account of themselves than they did against Derek Ure’s side on the opening day of the season back in mid-July, having lost 3-0 to them at home.

“We didn’t start the season how we’d have liked, so we’re looking forward to playing them again as the players will be champing at the bit to rectify that performance and we’ll be trying to be as competitive as possible,” said Hastings.​​​​​