Kriss-mas arrives early for Gala with season’s first win

Number 12 Kriss Mitchell is congratualted by his colleagues after sealing Gala FR's first win this term (picture by Debi Ritchie)
Number 12 Kriss Mitchell is congratualted by his colleagues after sealing Gala FR's first win this term (picture by Debi Ritchie)

Edinburgh University 0, Gala Fairydean Rovers 1

Gala Fairydean Rovers grabbed their first win of the season in the capital sunshine on Saturday.

A late Kriss Mitchell strike was enough to get new boss Dean Shanks his first competitive victory. The former Hawick Royal Albert manager was relieved to get his first points on the board, saying: “I’m delighted to get the win, as it’s never easy come to Peffermill to play Edinburgh University.

“I thought we controlled the game and could have grabbed a few more. It’s been a challenging few weeks, where we’ve face numerous injury and suspension problems, but the guys have been superb and I’m delighted for them in getting our first three points.

“I thought we deserved to win and, hopefully, we can take some momentum into the game against Whitehill Welfare at Netherdale on Tuesday evening.”

The game was a cagey affair, with the visitors having the better of the few chances created.

New loan signing Ricky Miller added some much-needed steel to a defence which had conceded 13 goals in the previous four league games.

The former Selkirk player was joined in the heart of defence by Keiran Ainslie, who was making his first appearance since suffering a knee injury in a pre-season friendly at Haddington.

The pair formed an immediate partnership and kept chances for Dorian Ogunro’s students to a premium, with Gregor Amos, in the visitors’ goal, having a quiet afternoon.

As well as being solid at the back, the partnership of Ainslie and Miller caused the home side problems at set-pieces. On the half hour mark, three successive corners for Gala almost resulted in the opener but Miller headed narrowly past from a cross from the right.

On 40 minutes, Dale Baxter should have opened the scoring, following good work by Billy Miller and Rhys Craigie down the left, but his shot was held well by Mark Tait in the home goal.

As half time approached, Gala came closer still. A Miller header was cleared off the line by the students following yet another corner from the right, before Rhys Craigie took a tumble in the box when he was one on one with Tait but the officials waved play on.

Gala continued to press after the break with Ainslie having a shot tipped over the bar and Craigie firing narrowly over.

Craigie was the visitors’ most impressive player but he should have done better when a good interchange of passes between Sean McKirdy and trialist Craig O’Reilly resulted in a clear strike at goal but, again, Tait did well to hold the shot.

It looked like the match was heading for a draw but substitute Kris Mitchell grabbed the winner just moments after replacing Dale Baxter.

The former Hawick and Vale of Leithen striker coolly slotted home a Sean McKirdy lay-off to ensure three well deserved and much needed points headed down the A7.

Gala Fairydean Rovers: G. Amos, C. Watson, B. Miller, K. Ainslie, R. Miller, D. Smith, S. McKirdy, S. Conaghan (Watson 90), C. O’Reilly, R. Craigie, D. Baxter (Mitchell 71). Subs unused: T. Patterson, L. Stephen, B. Herdman, D. Johnson, K. Watson.