University of Stirling 3, Gala Fairydean Rovers 1
It was the nightmare before Christmas for an off-form Gala Fairydean Rovers as the lost 3-1 to Stirling University on Saturday.
The visitors started slowly and never really recovered from the loss of goals early in each half.
Chris Geddes’ students were deserved winners and had come close on several occasions before Lewis Bonar fired a superb strike from just outside the area on 10 minutes.
Paddy Martin, in the Gala goal, managed to get a hand to the ball but it was struck with such ferocity that he could only touch it high into the net.
It was one-way traffic in the first half and the on-loan Hibs keeper did well to stop University increasing their lead on several occasions.
Hopes that the second half would prove any different were extinguished just six minutes after the break. Gala lost possession wide on the right and a quick break saw Ricky Miller left isolated against two student attackers.
Craig Brown was able to pick a spot behind Martin to double the lead.
Gala then enjoyed their best spell of the game. A flowing move saw Sandy Cunningham latch on to a fine through ball from Tommy Patterson to fire past Kevin Walker in the home goal.
Any hope of a comeback were spoiled in the 74th minute when a looping ball in the Fairydean Rovers box was not cleared and Craig Brown gleefully accepted the gift-wrapped opportunity to make it 3-1.
The performance will have been a concern for manager Dean Shanks, particularly in light of a 3-1 home win in the reverse fixture just a few weeks ago.
Gala now entertain Vale of Leithen in the final game of 2018 this Saturday (December 29) and the Netherdale faithful will be hoping for a great improvement from the Braw Lads.
Gala Fairydean Rovers: P. Martin, R. Stevenson, S. Main, K. Ainslie, R. Miller, D. Smith, T. Patterson, S. McKirdy, R. Paton, S. Cunningham, D. Baxter. Subs: K. Watson, J. Temple, K. Mitchell, D. Grant, G. Amos.