Gala Rovers 0
BORDER CUP FINAL
KENNY PATERSON reports from Kerfield
IT was ironic that a club from outwith the region and bound for the Lothian and Edinburgh Amateur League next season should pick up the Border Cup.
But if this game was Pencaitland’s last significant act of their trophy-laden – and at times controversial – time in the Border Amateur League, then it was one to savour in the Peebles sunshine.
Second-half goals from Dean Woods and Joe Murray sealed the win, their 13th piece of silverware since joining the BAL in 2002/03.
Despite the village side’s successful decade in the Borders, Gala Rovers were overwhelming favourites for the cup, having won seven games in a row before the final.
But the Netherdale side failed to perform on a pitch which bobbled more than a rubber duck in a bath jumped into by Dawn French.
However, Rovers coach Bryan Templeton refused to blame the playing surface for his team’s listless showing.
He said: “Pencaitland wanted it more than us.
“We never got started during the whole 90 minutes.
“We have been playing really well coming into the final, but I think two or three players froze today.
“Our passing was sloppy and we picked the wrong options. Perhaps the occasion got to us.”
The two sides drew 2-2 back in August and the first half was another tight 45 minutes.
Despite a frontline featuring Des Sutherland and Stuart Noble, both of whom scored four goals each in a South Cup win the previous week, Gala failed to provide the deadly strikeforce with any significant opportunities to find the net.
Pencaitland found the goal on 17 minutes, but Alan Morgan was adjudged to have palmed Jamie Brown’s free kick past Rovers stopper Steven King.
King was called into action when he made a superb stop to deny Woods before Gala player/manager Steve Noble cleared the striker’s follow-up shot off the line.
Sutherland almost scored a spectacular opener from Shane Greene’s lofted pass, flicking the ball up and producing an overhead kick which had Pencaitland goalkeeper Derek Robertson scrambling to make the save.
But on the stroke of half-time, Woods was holding his head rather than kicking over it as a Greene mistake allowed the forward the chance of scoring into an empty net from close range, only to slice wide.
Rovers started the second period in positive fashion, as Stuart Noble and Kyle Collins forced Robertson to make two impressive saves.
Yet, it was Pencaitland who grabbed the decisive first goal on 64 minutes through Woods, as he headed home a Scott Allan corner.
A double substitution for Gala failed to inspire the side, who looked devoid of ideas.
The pitch certainly did not help their passing game, with only a Stuart Noble free kick on 73 minutes forcing Robertson into any action.
Instead, Pencaitland sealed the victory four minutes into injury time as Murray netted from 30 yards out as King tried in vain to get back after a desperate attempt to score and force extra time from a Gala corner.
The only sour note was Pencaitland’s antagonistic celebrations of the clinching second goal, with a number of their players booked. Some would say it is part of the game, but others, such as this reporter, suggest it was unsporting and needless.
Either way, they still deserved the cup victory, and while this was a sore loss for Rovers, there is still plenty to play for, including their first Division A title for nine years.
Gala Rovers: S. King, R. Grant, K. Matheson (C. Middlemiss 88), Steve Noble, S. Greene (S. Mackenzie 68), K. Collins, J. Collins (B. Noble 77), A. Hardie, D. Sutherland, Stuart Noble, C. Gow (C. Jardine 68).