Gala FR give battling display but are felled by late ‘Shire winner

An excellent save by home debut keeper Patrick Martin for Gala FR (picture by Alwyn Johnston).
An excellent save by home debut keeper Patrick Martin for Gala FR (picture by Alwyn Johnston).

Gala Fairydean Rovers 0

East Stirlingshire 1

While Gala FR may have conceded a late winner to East Stirlingshire on Saturday, boss Steven Noble can take many positives from the battling nature of his team’s performance.

Most notably, the solid defensive display provided a major contrast from recent weeks.

Gala almost hit the front after 18 minutes when young target man Grant Rose showed great feet to turn his marker. But his goalbound effort was deflected over by one of the massed defenders on the edge of the box.

Shire came within inches of an opener just a minute later, with full back Graeme MacGregor cutting inside well and sending a powerful effort just wide of the top corner from 20 yards.

Gala were on the ropes, and Paul Sludden really should have put the visitors ahead on 22 minutes. But the finish was lacking after he was played in well over the top by MacGregor, with his ballooned effort causing no danger for keeper Patrick Martin, who was making his home Gala debut.

There were few chances in the second half, with the first taking 40 minutes to arrive. Stuart Noble showed great strength to hold the ball up and win a free kick from Jordan Tapping.

Billy Miller took the free kick short to Noble, but the ball appeared to take a bobble before he blazed over from 25 yards.

The visitors took the lead with seven minutes remaining, with former Peterhead striker Andy Rodgers finding space well on the edge of the box before mis-hitting his shot straight to the feet of his strike partner, Paul Sludden, at the back post. The manager’s son wasn’t going to pass up another gilt-edged chance and blasted the ball beyond Martin, who had no chance.

Gala threw everything at ‘Shire in the closing stages in a valiant attempt to end their run of consecutive defeats, and it very nearly payed off deep into injury time. But Billy Miller’s volley from the edge of the box flew a few centimetres past the post, with keeper Jamie Barclay rooted to the spot.