Gala Fairydean Rovers through to first cup final for over quarter of century after penalty shootout success

Gala Fairydean Rovers defied being outnumbered to book their first cup final spot this century with a penalty shootout victory in Perth and Kinross on Saturday, April 30.

By sports reporter
Monday, 2nd May 2022, 11:05 am
Zander Murray, set to remain with Gala Fairydean Rovers until 2023 after signing a contract extension, was one of their scorers on Saturday (Photo: Bill McBurnie)
Zander Murray, set to remain with Gala Fairydean Rovers until 2023 after signing a contract extension, was one of their scorers on Saturday (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

The Galashiels side were favourites to go through to the final of the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup, a trophy not seen in their Netherdale home ground’s boardroom for 26 years, but their opponents had claimed some big scalps in the five rounds leading to the semi-finals so their Scottish Lowland Football League guests knew they’d have a testing fixture on their hands despite playing two tiers above their Tulloch Park hosts, and so it proved, with the game ending up deadlocked at 4-4 after extra time and requiring spot kicks to decide it.

Their East of Scotland Football League first division conference B hosts took the lead in the second minute via a deflected shot, and they stayed ahead up to the interval and beyond, thanks to a series of saves by goalkeeper Lukasz Osinkri.

The visitors finally got back on level terms on 53 minutes when striker Zander Murray, fresh from signing a contract extension keeping him at Netherdale until 2023, bundled the ball home in a goalmouth scramble.

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Liam Campbell put them ahead with a left-foot shot even Osinkri couldn’t save on the hour mark.

Things got tougher for Gala shortly afterwards, though, as Lewis Hall was shown a second yellow card and sent off, having been judged to have handled a ball in the box, and the hosts scored both with the resulting penalty and from a subsequent corner to go 3-2 in front.

Campbell got Gala back into it in injury time with an overhead kick into the top corner of the opposition net, and Murray looked to have killed the tie off with a low shot from six yards out drilled into the bottom corner on 119 minutes.

Another penalty for the hosts made it all square again, necessitating a shootout, however.

Goalkeeper Josh Blair proved to be the hero for the visitors, though, pulling off two crucial saves to allow spot kicks from Murray, Gareth Rodger, Scott Cusick and Kyle Wilkie to secure a 4-3 victory for his side and a chance to take on East of Scotland Football League premier division outfit Linlithgow Rose, 5-1 victors against Stirling University in their semi.

Gala manager Martin Scott said: “I am delighted for everyone at the club that we have made the cup final.

“Even when we went down to 10 men, we continued to play the right way and the players worked so hard.

“We are now looking forward to the final against Linlithgow Rose, which will be another tough game.”

A date and venue have yet to be fixed for the final.

To get there, besides Kinnoull, Rovers had to beat Rosyth, Tweedmouth Rangers, Bathgate Thistle, fifth-tier champions Bonnyrigg Rose and Dundonald Bluebell.