Gala Fairydean 3
Preston Athletic 1
EOS FIRST DIVISION
John Clayton reports from Netherdale
THIS match, which was so crucial for both sides, began in lively fashion with Elliot Turnbull having to make a quick-reaction save to grasp a flicked header from one of his own defenders.
Preston returned the favour when one of their defenders deflected a Jack Hay shot over his own cross bar. The same man then got on to the end of a Gerri Rossi cross but collided heavily with Ross Gilpin in the process, neither player was hurt and the header was cleared from its goalward trajectory.
Gala then lost the ball in midfield and Kevin Cairnie was through on the Gala goal but put his shot just wide as he was closed down by Turnbull.
Everyone stopped for a breather while Rossi received some lengthy treatment for an ankle knock and then minutes from half time the same player was clipped by a Preston defender as he ran on to a blocked Jack Hay shot and Mr Weir pointed to the penalty spot. Scott Nightingale hit the penalty powerfully into the bottom left-hand corner to open the scoring.
On the stroke of half time, a much recovered Rossi skipped down the left wing and sent in a peach of a cross which eluded the Preston defence but was met by the inrushing Jack Hay to clip home a second goal for Gala.
Preston replaced their goalkeeper and Cairnie at half time but to no avail as it was Gala who extended their lead on the hour. The ball was slotted through the central midfield area to Jack Hay who left the defenders for dead before sliding the ball past Sean Thomson.
Preston eventually got on the score sheet when Paul Young’s cushioned header to his goalkeeper was well short and Sean Martin nipped in to tuck the ball home.
To round things off, Gala were awarded a second penalty for a shove on Jack Hay well into injury time. Hay was given the opportunity to claim his hat trick from the penalty but put his shot over the cross bar. But the result closed the gap to just two points between the two sides with Gala having two games in hand in which to make up this ground.
Gala Fairydean: E. Turnbull, G. Hay, A. Brown, P. Young, C. Lothian, C. Tyson, J. Wilson, G. Gass, G. Rossi, J. Hay, S. Nightingale.