Gala Fairydean Rovers 3, Spartans 2
They’ll remember, remember the fifth of November at Netherdale for a long time after fireworks aplenty, as Gala Fairydean Rovers recorded a historic Bonfire Night victory over Spartans.
It was the Borders club’s first victory over the men from Edinburgh since the Lowland League began in 2013.
Supporters of the Braw Lads could have been forgiven for fearing the worst prior to kick-off. In their previous Lowland League outing, Gala lost 4-1 against local rivals Hawick Royal Albert, while Spartans had demolished Hawick RA 9-1 the previous week.
Added to that was an extensive injury and suspension list for manager Steven Noble to deal with, which left him short in a number of key positions. However, his makeshift team produced a fantastic display to earn all three points.
The home side got off to the perfect start in 90 seconds when Sean Paliczka fired home a Darren Smith free-kick to open the scoring.
Spartans should have levelled on 10 minutes when they were awarded a penalty, after referee George Calder ruled Kieran Wright in the home goal impeded Jack Hay in the box.
However, David Greenhill fired the resultant spot-kick past the post.
The visitors were punished for that miss just before the half-hour mark when Darren Smith’s free-kick from wide on the right evaded a number of bodies in the box and somehow managed to find its way into the corner of Blair Carswell’s net.
Spartans started the second half in determined fashion and halved the deficit on 52 minutes, when midfielder Scott Maxwell capitalised on a slip in the home defence to fire home.
The visitors piled on the pressure hitting the post and creating a number of chances before a stunning scissors kick by former Fairydean Rovers striker Jack Hay levelled things on 62 minutes.
Just when it looked that the pendulum had swung in favour of the capital outfit, Gala once again took the lead just minutes later after Ross Aitchison headed across goal for Stuart Noble to use his strength and experience to nod home the winner, much to the delight of the home support.
Dougie Samuel’s Spartans side flung everything they could at getting an equaliser but Gala defended tenaciously to hold on for the victory.
A delighted Fairydean Rovers boss Steven Noble paid tribute to his makeshift team, adding: “The work rate and effort from everybody was first class and we thoroughly deserved our win.
“The players rose to the occasion against the side that was sitting second in the league. We’ve had some good performances in recent weeks without getting a result, so I knew we had it in us to match Spartans.
“We were short of players but the lads who came on all played their part in ensuring we held on for a great win. Now we need to build on this and kick on and move ourselves further up the Lowland League table.”
Gala Fairydean Rovers: K. Wright, L. Stephen, B. Miller, G. Windram, R. Aitchison, T. Hope, D. Smith, S. Noble, Sutherland (Trialist), S. Paliczka, (A. Nicol 75), Simpson. Subs: Trialist, Trialist, M. Fenton.