Gala Fairydean Rovers up for challenge after second-round cup tie win in West Lothian
Gala Fairydean Rovers were the central Borders’ only success story in the South Challenge Cup’s second round on Saturday.
The Galashiels team won 3-1 away against West Lothian’s Whitburn Juniors, but both Peebles Rovers and Hawick Royal Albert United were knocked out by East Lothian sides.
The former lost 2-1 at Preston Athletic, with Kyle Kivlichan scoring for the Borderers, and the latter were beaten 2-0 by Ormiston.
Gala aren’t the region’s last men standing in the competition, however, as Coldstream are also through to the next round after seeing off Tweedmouth Rangers 3-0 at home.
The Netherdale side were well off the pace in the pace in the first half of their cup tie against Whitburn and their hosts took advantage of their failure to get to grips with the game by going ahead on the 12-minute mark with a well-placed shot by Dylan Weldon into the bottom corner of the net.
The Scottish Lowland Football League side suffered a further blow at the start of the second half when Jack Beaumont was stretchered off with a knee injury following a late challenge, but adversity appeared to spur them on as they then raised their game, with the introduction of striker Zander Murray providing added impetus.
Murray smashed home a penalty in the 69th minute awarded for a handling offence in the box to get the visitors back on level terms with their East of Scotland Football League first division conference X opponents.
Three minutes later, Ciaren Chalmers rose to power home a header and in the 78th minute he made it 3-1 by blasting home from close range following a cut-back by Murray.
Gala were well on top at that stage of proceedings and could easily have added to their lead, with Chalmers and Liam Gray both going close.
The 32 fixtures making up the third round of the challenge cup take place on Saturday, November 20.
Next up for Rovers, though, is another cup tie this coming Saturday against St Cuthbert Wanderers in Kirkcudbright in Dumfries and Galloway. It’s a Scottish Cup second-round game kicking off at 3pm.
Manager Neil Hastings’ side, currently 10th in the table with 23 points from 14 games, return to league duty after that, playing fifth-placed East Stirlingshire, on 28 points from 16 games, at the Falkirk Stadium on Saturday, October 30, with kick-off at 3pm.
The two sides have already met this season, Derek Ure’s side having won 3-0 at Netherdale on the opening day of the current campaign back in mid-July.
Peebles and Hawick are also both away again this Saturday but on EoSFL first division conference B duty.
Rovers are at Lochgelly Albert in Fife and United are at Stirling University, with both those games kicking off at 2.30pm.
Mikey Wilson’s Peebles side are currently eighth in conference B with 14 points from 11 games, three league places and one point ahead of their hosts.
Jordan Gracie’s Hawick team remain rooted to the bottom of the table with four points from 13 games, two places and six points below the students they play this weekend.