Much to take heart from for Gala Fairydean Rovers despite 4-2 defeat by Premiership XI
Gala Fairydean Rovers rounded off their pre-season campaign by going down 4-2 against a Hearts XI in Edinburgh yesterday morning, July 11.
The Alfie Conn Memorial Trophy was up for grabs at that game, held at the Oriam sports centre, and the capital outfit, fielding a mix of first-team players and teenagers, ran out worthy winners in the end.
Ex-Rangers midfielder Andy Halliday gave Hearts the lead in the 18th minute when his left-footed free-kick from the right eluded everyone trying to get a touch on it and crept in at the back post.
The Galashiels side hit back shortly afterwards, though, when Daryl Healy headed home a free-kick from Jack Beaumont.
The visitors could even have gone on to take the lead, but Ben Herdman missed a header from close range.
Gala had goalkeeper Dean Beveridge to thank for keeping them in the game at this stage by producing brilliant saves to foil Halliday and Jamie Walker.
The home side edged ahead in the 40th minute after Euan Henderson burst through and found the corner of the net with an angled drive.
Henderson increased Hearts’ lead on the hour mark by converting a penalty kick and it looked as if the game was over at that point.
Liam Gray hit the post and Healy slammed the rebound just wide as Gala rallied, however, and they reduced the margin to 3-2 soon afterwards. Ceiren Chalmers nodded a cross down into the path of Healy and he blasted the ball into the roof of the net.
The benefit of full-time training swayed the game in Hearts’ favour as time went on, though, and only a couple more fine saves from Beveridge prevented Robbie Neilson’s side from increasing their lead.
They eventually added to the scoreline in the dying seconds of the match after substitute Aidan Denholm burst clear and slotted the ball into the far corner of the net to round off the scoring.
That completed a mixed bag of pre-season friendlies for Gala Fairydean Rovers comprising a 2-2 draw against Peebles Rovers, a 4-3 defeat at home to Lothian Thistle and victories against Coldstream by 2-0, Tynecastle by 4-0, Penicuik by 2-1 and Edinburgh City by 3-1.
The Alfie Conn Memorial Trophy was donated to Rovers in memory of their manager of that name, in charge at Netherdale from 1960 to 1962, and also, along with Willie Bauld and Jimmy Wardhaugh, part of the famous Hearts forward line of the 1950s known as the Terrible Trio.
It was last played for in 2016, with the Borderers winning 2-0 on that occasion, but this time round Hearts captain Scott McGill was presented with the trophy by Gala community trust secretary Graeme McIver after yesterday's match at Heriot-Watt University's Riccarton complex.
Next up for Gala is the start of the new Scottish Lowland Football League campaign this Saturday against East Stirlingshire at home at 3pm.