If there was a positive to come from Gala Fairydean Rovers’ loss to East Kilbride, it was the performance of goalkeeper John Dodds.
The 31-year-old signed from rivals Selkirk in the summer, but some have raised doubts that the former Ayr United man is still the keeper he once was.
But Dodds produced a series of stunning saves against the Lanarkshire side that punished Jamie Gibson’s saved penalty as Andrew Johnston struck the winner.
Yet, the game will serve as good practice for Dodds ahead of this weekend’s Scottish Cup clash with Clyde when another top showing from Gala’s number one is likely to be required.
Gala boss Stevie Noble said: “I think John is the best goalkeeper in the league and he showed that today.
“He was outstanding and made a string of great saves.
“They were eventually going to score with the chances they got and John could do nothing with the goal.”
As ever, Gala’s side contained plenty attacking options with Stuart Noble partnered by Gibson up front, with Sean Paliczka forced wide on the right and Des Sutherland playing behind the strikers.
But it was the visitors who threatened first as striker Gary Graham fired wide before Ross Meldrum made a decent stop to deny Paliczka.
Sutherland’s powerful header was directed straight at Meldrum on six minutes but as usual Gala looked vulnerable at the back, and Graham broke free again only to see his first shot saved by Dodds, and his rebound shot fly over.
The remainder of the first half was devoid of exciting action, with little quality or attempts on goal.
But within three minutes of the second half Dodds was in action to tip over a shot from Graham.
Stuart Noble appeared certain to score after he advanced to within six yards from goal, only to somehow scoop his shot over.
The next five minutes was The Dodds Show as he made a brilliant stop at the feet of Kevin Wilson a couple of yards out which earned the plaudits of both sets of fans. He made another quality save from Graham on 57 minutes but Gala still posed a threat with Dean McColm hitting the inside of the post with a curling shot.
Gibson earned the 63rd minute penalty himself when he was fouled by Marc Templeton, but the usually reliable striker saw his spot kick saved well by Meldrum.
And just eight minutes later, East Kilbride’s impressive substitute Jonathan Diack crossed for Johnston to scramble the ball over the line.
Gala never gave up, but did not look like claiming an equaliser, and instead it was East Kilbride who went close in the closing stages, with Kyle Collins making two great blocks.
Noble added: “We were disappointing today and our decision making was poor.
“The game could have gone either way, but you have to give credit to East Kilbride, who have beaten Spartans and Whitehill this season.”
Gala Fairydean Rovers: J. Dodds, B. Miller, J. Inglis, K. Collins, C. McBride, D. Bonnar, D. McColm (C. Jardine), D. Sutherland (M. Berry), J. Gibson, S. Noble, S. Paliczka.