Gala Fairydean Rovers 2, Dalbeattie Star 2
Gala Fairydean Rovers left it late to salvage a draw from a tempestuous game at the 3G Arena, with both teams one man down at the finish.
GFR dug deep to come from two goals down and take a point against a fellow south of Scotland team scrapping near the foot of the table.
The home side stumbled out of the blocks and Dalbeattie took full advantage in just the third minute through Tommy Muir, who carried on his fine form from the previous week, when he scored a hat-trick.
Star forced a corner down Gala’s left, which wasn’t fully cleared, and a good cross from the right flank was headed past Lewis Muir in goal.
Steven Noble’s men, who know their boss his quitting his managerial post at the end of the season but staying on in an advistory role, rallied, and Craig Heugh fired a warning shot over the top of Vincent Parker’s goal, 25 yards out, with 22 minutes on the clock.
Midfielder Fraser Neave worked some space for himself five minutes later but Parker was equal to his drive from the edge of the box.
The visitors stretched their lead further after 36 minutes, through Muir again. An excellent cross was swung in from a deep left sided free kick by Star top-scorer Lewis Sloan and the ball went all the way to the back post for Muir, who once again headed it past his namesake Lewis in goal.
The game took a nasty turn a minute before the break. Lewis Muir came to pick up a slowly rolling ball on the penalty spot which was being fervently chased by Tommy Muir, resulting in Lewis’ head colliding with the boot of the onrushing Tommy.
Lewis Muir was down for a long time and Tommy Muir received a straight red card. Lewis Muir was sidelined at half time with suspected concussion, while defender Sean Guiney replaced him in goals.
Recently-signed winger Liam Chambers put in a good performance on his debut, with his powerful running helping to break down a regimented Dalbeattie defence.
He put a good deep cross in two minutes after the break but there were no takers in the box, except keeper Parker, who gratefully clutched the ball to his chest and embraced the opportunity to run down the clock.
Gala dragged themselves back into the match 10 minutes into the second period, with Kieran Ainslie connecting with Darren Smith’s corner at the back post and steering a header beyond a despairing Parker.
Ainslie had come close on a few occasions in the last few weeks from corners, and manager Noble will doubtless be pleased that the routine finally paid dividends.
Liam Chambers made himself a few inches of space on the edge of the box on 73 minutes but his rasping drive whistled a few feet wide of the goal.
The referee evened up the game with just three minutes left of normal time, with GFR’s Scott Main being sent off following a tangle of legs as Star tried to counter Gala and seal the points.
The red card appeared to be for a professional foul, although many inside the ground argued there were multiple covering defenders.
The home side weren’t disheartened by the sending-off and they could have equalised on 90 minutes through young striker Fraser Malcolm, but his strike was held by Parker, who once again flopped to the floor in an attempt to seal the victory for his side.
However, Dalbeattie’s repeated time-wasting was to be their undoing, with referee Kevin Lindsay electing to play nine minutes of stoppage time.
Gala took full advantage – Fraser Malcolm took a long ball from Sean Guiney down well and drove into the box, which seemed to cause panic for Parker, who came rushing out and cleaned out Malcolm.
This left the referee no choice but to award a penalty, and Parker earned a yellow card for his protests.
Darren Smith took the ball, and showed nerves of steel to roll the ball beyond Parker and claim a crucial point for his side from a game they didn’t deserve to lose.
GFR: Muir (Malcolm 45), Guiney, Main, Aitchison (c), Miller (Kelly 78), Smith, Heugh, Rose, Neave (Chambers 40), Paliczka.