Late Berwick Rangers goal denies Gala Fairydean Rovers automatic progress into Lowland League Cup quarter-finals

A solitary Lewis Allan goal just seven minutes from fullt-time on Saturday denied Gala Fairydean Rovers an automatic place in the Lowland League Cup quarter-finals.

By Craig Goldthorp
Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 11:09 am
Updated Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 11:09 am
Berwick Rangers players celebrating Lewis Allan's 82nd-minute winner against Gala Fairydean Rovers on Saturday (Photo: Alan Bell)
Berwick Rangers players celebrating Lewis Allan's 82nd-minute winner against Gala Fairydean Rovers on Saturday (Photo: Alan Bell)

Allan’s late strike for Berwick Rangers at Shielfield Park meant his side finished top of the South East group with two wins out of two and left Rovers and local rivals Vale of Leithen both on one point each and with identical goal differences, meaning that they will play-off for a spot in the last eight.

The date for this play-off was yet to be decided at time of going to press, but a coin toss on Monday will decide whether Gala Fairydean or Vale have home advantage for the make or break tie.

"That play-off should be a bit tasty,” Gala assistant boss Stevie Craig told the Southern Reporter. "For my coaching company – Planet Soccer - one of the coaches that we employ just took up one of the coaching roles at Vale of Leithen.

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Gala Fairydean Rovers defender Calum Hall attempting to get a block in against Berwick Rangers (Photo: Alan Bell)

"So as well as there obviously being a local rivalry there’s also a Planet Soccer rivalry as myself and Kirk Crichton will be going up against each other.

"Vale have done well since the new management team – spearheaded by manager Michael Wilson – have come in and they’ve picked up an influx of players.

"From last week’s game when we played them in the league cup I think they have made nine changes and seven signings.

"I think more are due between now and the end of the season. They are really making a big push to stay up.

Berwick Rangers on the attack against Gala Fairydean Rivers at Shielfield Park on Saturday

"Cup games take care of themselves and I think it’s even more of an incentive that it’s a local rival and I just hope that we can turn in a good performance.

“We played well down there in the 0-0 draw – it was probably one of our best performances of the season – but we just couldn’t convert the chances. It’s all shaped up to be a good cup tie.”

Craig revealed that Gala player/boss Martin Scott – a feature on the pitch in recent matches – didn’t play against Berwick due to a calf problem.

Craig said that neither he nor Scott had ever been involved in a team facing a one-off cup play-off due to having an identical record.

He added: “It’s a first for us. Obviously Bonnyrigg pulled out of our league cup section meaning there were only three teams in the group. So I think the chances of two teams being on the same points and goal difference was more likely.”

Referring to last weekend’s defeat at Shielfield, Craig felt Gala didn’t get what they deserved.

“Berwick probably didn’t deserve their victory,” Craig said. “We were probably the better team for large spells of the game. I’m just disappointed we didn't get the result.

"Arron Darge hit the top of the bar for us with a shot around the 58th minute mark after a really good passage of play down the right.

"But we had three or four good chances and over the 90 minutes I think the least we deserved was a draw.

"That’s why Berwick are higher up the table. They take their chances and they have that wee bit more quality at the crucial times. It was a real blow to concede late on, a sucker punch.”

Rovers have a home East of Scotland Qualifying Cup quarter-final against Dundonald Bluebell on Saturday.