Gala leave it late but Gibson saves the day

Jamie Gibson of Gala Fairydean FC.
Jamie Gibson of Gala Fairydean FC.

Easthouses Lily2

Gala FDR4

August 2012, and Gala Fairydean defeated Easthouses Lily 6-2 in their last visit to the Newbattle Complex.

Fifteen months on, Gala’s name, manager and the league they play in have changed, but the result, albeit in dramatic circumstances, remained the same.

It seemed Steven Noble’s side were heading for the South Challenge Cup exit door with just ten minutes remaining as the visitors trailed 2-1 to their East of Scotland First Division hosts.

But an incredible nine-minute hat-trick by Jamie Gibson in the closing stages took Gala into round three of the competition.

While far from a classic Gala performance, they showed plenty of fight in the second half against a decent side who thumped Hibs East of Scotland team 4-1 only a couple of weeks previous.

Gibson said: “I think I scored with my only three touches of the game.

“We had most of the ball in the first half but failed to create much, and they scored two goals with their only chances.

“We didn’t play much better in the second half but managed to take our chances.

“The hat-trick means I have 11 goals for the season and if I can get to 20 I will have had a decent season.”

The drama which unfolded in the last ten minutes could easily have been avoided had Stuart Noble scored when clean through after just four minutes. Uncharacteristically, the in-form striker fired just wide.

Instead, Lily opened the scoring with a cracker. An Andrew Common foul on 26 minutes gave Paul McDermott a chance to bullet a 20-yard free kick into the top corner.

Gala would have hit back immediately were it not for the head of Ryan McQueenie as he cleared Dean McColm’s chip from his own line.

But it was Easthouses who struck again on 37 minutes as Willie McKinnon’s cross found Mark Brown to tap home.

Fairydean Rovers played with greater pace and urgency at the start of the second half, as was required, and Gibson was unfortunate to see a sweetly struck shot well saved by Falconer on 47 minutes.

Gala finally got on the scoresheet on 65 minutes when Allan Nicol’s free kick found Noble to thump a shot into the net off the post.

Chances were now appearing at both ends as Noble went close for Gala again and Scott Borthwick saw a drive stopped by John Dodds in the visitors’ goal.

Just as it appeared Gala were in for a shock cup defeat, Kyle Collins’ 83rd minute corner found Fraser Forrest’s head, who in turn set up Gibson to nod the ball into the net from six yards out.

And they grabbed the lead on 89 minutes as Noble was fouled in the area by sub David Curran. Gibson was nerveless to fire the spot kick past Falconer.

The former Selkirk forward then finished off the tie two minutes into added time with another calm finish, after good work by sub Sean Paliczka.

Gibson commented:“We have got through two competitions in the last two weeks, and it would be great to lift a cup this season.”

If Gala can show the same heart as their second half showing, they just might have a chance.