Gala Fairydean Rovers 5, Hawick Royal Albert 1
In their final outing of 2016, Gala Fairydean Rovers certainly matched teh description of the taxi firm emblazoned on their shirts – Fife Star.
The Netherdale side gave a five-star display in motoring to a clear win through a five goal blitz.
They also had their own star in Ross Aitchison, who shone in notching an excellent hat trick.
Gala FR manager Steven Noble said afterwards: “At the start of the month, we had our worst result in club history, being beaten 10-1 by East Stirlingshire.
“This hurt big time. Getting a good win like this over Hawick, however, has helped take the pain away a bit, though.
“There wasn’t much in the first half. Our opening goal just on half time settled us down.
“After this, we really came on to a game.
“The players showed a lot of resilience, played well and we scored some good goals. It was a deserved win, we got the three points we needed, and it was a great result to
finish the year with.”
Gunning for revenge following a defeat at the hands of Hawick a few weeks back, FR started with a bang and could well have been two goals up in the opening five minutes.
In the game’s first raid, Ross Aitchison drove a Billy Miller cross wide before Scott Main came near to breaking the deadlock with a header on meeting a Darren Smith corner.
The Albert, in turn, showed what they had to offer and James McPartlin almost got his name on the scoresheet with a well-struck drive that cannoned off the upright.
Following this lively beginning, matters went into cold storage for a spell, with neither side creating scoring chances or showing much enterprise.
Things did begin to liven up, however, and, after Hawick number one Kyle Rankin had kept out a Smith free kick, home shot-stopper Kieran Wright pulled off a great stop from Sean
Gala FR were looking the likelier side but had nothing to show for their efforts until sailing into the lead with a minute of the first half remaining.
Smith floated a free kick into a crowded goalmouth and Aitchison rose unchallenged to bullet home a header.
Four minutes into the second period, Aitchison did it all again when darting through a flat-footed Hawick defence to drill a shot out of the Rankin’s reach.
This was to be the beginning of the end for Hawick.
Fairydean began to rule and after Rankin had put up the shutters with saves from Sean Palizcka and Miller, the home side increased their lead in the 61st minute.
Latching on to a cut back from the right, the ever-ready Aitchison completed his hat-trick with a spot-on finish.
Three minutes later, the Albert fell into further arrears, with Miller this time emerging as Gala FR marksman with a perfectly-struck free kick that sailed over the head of Rankin and into the roof of the net.
Rampant Rovers continued their purple patch with yet another strike in the 68th minute. Miller sprayed a pass to the feet of Stuart Noble, who surged forward to waltz round Rankin and shoot home.
Gala FR were in control but, in the 74th minute, Hawick opened their account.
An angled Josh Morris shot rebounded off the post and bounced into the path of Sean Meikle, who tucked away a shot.
In the closing stages, Noble and Jon McInally came close to scoring at their respective ends.
Albert assistant manager Dean Robertson summed it up: “We were well prepared for the game but we were poor. Gala were the better side. They wanted it more than we did. It’s as simple as that.”