Irvine Meadow 4
Gala Fairydean 0
SCOTTISH CUP FIRST ROUND
KENNY PATERSON reports from Meadow Park
IT was fitting that Fraser Lothian’s reign in charge of Gala Fairydean ended in the rain.
The Dean’s manager stood on the sidelines soaked from head to toe thanks to a torrential rain shower as his side slid to a 4-0 defeat on Saturday.
Just 48 hours later, the likeable coach stood down from the job he held for 44 months.
At least he was not embarrassed in his final match, with former Rangers and Millwall striker Tom Brighton the difference as he notched a hat-trick.
After the game, Lothian did not seem too despondent, knowing that Brighton’s signing-on fee was probably more than the budget he has for his entire squad.
He said: “I am disappointed to go out in the first round, but we knew they were a quality team and it would be a hard tie.
“The boys did OK, but we tried to play too many long balls at times. It was a good experience for the lads, but we have to move forward.”
A visit to Meadow Park is an interesting experience. Built in the middle of a housing estate, the stadium is like stepping back in time, with an old corrugated stand and terracing round a well-maintained park.
But Medda are leading the way in terms of Scottish junior football, and the reigning Super League Premier Division champions are a formidable outfit.
The strength of their squad meant former Partick Thistle and Motherwell defender Willie Kinniburgh was left on the bench.
As expected, Irvine dominated the game from kick off, and after sustained pressure, Brighton opened the scoring on 26 minutes as he tapped in from a yard out after Mark Campbell headed the ball into his path.
The second arrived six minutes later as top scorer Ritchie Barr, who will form a deadly partnership with Brighton this season, sidefooted home from 16 yards.
The Fairies’ only effort on goal in the entire half was a Jay Wilson free kick which curled over the bar. Lone striker Jack Hay must have wondered what he had done to deserve such a thankless task of chasing the ball for 45 minutes.
The second half was played in pouring rain throughout, which slowed Meadow down and helped Gala, who were much improved.
It was still all Meadow in front of 430 spectators, but The Dean at least showed a few glimpses of the passing football they are capable of.
It was still no surprise when the homesters went 3-0 up as Brighton latched on to Adam Strachan’s low cross on 62 minutes.
And it was four on 86 minutes as the striker powered home a Halliday corner with his head. He could have had a quartet of goals himself, but Brighton blazed over a penalty he won when tripped by Gary Lothian.
Gala’s only effort on goal came in stoppage time as Greg Hay’s 30-yard piledriver hit the body of keeper Michael Wardrope, the stopper seemingly forgetting how to use his hands, having not had to make a save all game.
But Lothian’s men deserved credit, in particular 18-year-old full back Michael Fairburn who battled bravely all game against physically stronger opponents.
The Scottish Cup dream is over for Gala – now they must rebuild after Lothian’s departure.
Gala Fairydean: E. Turnbull, G. Hay, M. Fairburn, G. Lothian, P. Sutherland, G. Gass (B. McGregor 58), P. Young (C. Tyson 70), J. Wilson, G. Rossi, J. Hay, A. Brown (D. Bonnar 82).