Gala Fairydean Rovers up for cup, says boss Neil Hastings

Gala Fairydean Rovers boss Neil Hastings says he is looking forward to what he considers his side’s biggest game yet of this season this Saturday, a Scottish Cup third-round tie at home to League Two’s Annan Athletic.

By Craig Goldthorp
Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 5:37 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 7:56 pm
Daryl Healy on the ball for Gala Fairydean Rovers against Stirling University (Photo: Bill McBurnie)
Daryl Healy on the ball for Gala Fairydean Rovers against Stirling University (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

Hastings is hoping to see his side bounce back from their 2-0 loss at home to Stirling University in the South Challenge Cup’s third round last weekend.

He told us: “Prior to the start of the season, if you’re talking about one individual game, this probably is the biggest game of the season in the biggest competition that we enter against a team from a higher division that are flying high in their league, so the players need to be up for it. I’m sure they will be.

“I’m sure there will be that added bit of spice at training this week with the Scottish Cup game coming up, but we need to manage the game better. We need to be better at both ends of the pitch than we were on Saturday.

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Liam Campbell playing for Gala Fairydean Rovers against Stirling University on Saturday (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

“Obviously we need to have a little bit of luck and we need them to have an off day if we’re going to try and progress into the fourth round.

“I’m always confident going into any game. I believe in the group of players both individually and collectively.

“We will be as organised as we possibly can be.

“Football’s about players. You need the players to take ownership of the opportunities and decisions that they make on the pitch.

Gala Fairydean Rovers manager Neil Hastings watching his side being beaten 2-0 by Stirling University (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

"Fingers crossed, I believe we’ll have enough in the dressing room that if we get them in the right areas of the pitch, we can score goals.

“What we’ll need to do is manage occasions where they are maybe having a spell or they create opportunities and try and be as defensively sound as we possibly can be.

“The Scottish Cup is a wonderful opportunity for us to try and put the club and the town on the map.

“If we can win the game and get through, we’ll be getting spoken about a little bit along with big names and the opportunity to be in the next round of the cup.”

Martin Scott on the ball for Gala Fairydean Rovers against Stirling University at the weekend (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

Hastings is keen for a good crowd to turn up this weekend to help cheer his Scottish Lowland Football League side on, saying: “I stay in Edinburgh, but from a lot of the locals I’ve heard that there’s going to be a lot of people attending the game.

“It would be great to see a big turnout and a healthy support from the local community and the town and a real atmosphere generated to support the players and try and make it as uncomfortable as possible for Annan and, at the same time, get us a little bit of an environment and a support to try and get the job done.”

If Rovers are to get the better of Annan, they will need to produce a much better display than the one that saw them exit the South Challenge Cup to Stirling Uni.

After a goalless first half, Stirling netted on 65 and 73 minutes to progress, with Gala found guilty of not matching runners for both goals as Stirling Uni counter-attacked.

Hastings said: “I was very disappointed. We created a lot of opportunities – we had a lot of crosses, a lot of possession and territory – without really testing the goalkeeper.

“We didn’t defend well enough on two occasions, and fair play to them, they took the opportunities when they came along and we didn’t take ours at the other end.”