Spartans 1

Gala Fairydean Rovers 1

Graeme McIver

at Ainslie Park

STEVEN Noble’s Fairydean Rovers emerged with their first ever Lowland League point from a sun drenched Ainslie Park on Saturday.

Despite falling behind to a Jack Beesley thunderbolt, the Borders side battled hard to grab a second half equaliser.

The draw comes on the back of their fine 3-2 home victory back in November over Spartans.

Prior to the game both teams had to deal with a number of injuries to their respective squads. Noble drafted in new signings Kieran Ainslie and Lewis Swaney into his defence whilst Spartans boss Dougie Samuel added a trio of Under 20 players to his bench.

The home side almost got off the perfect start in the capital sunshine when a short backpass from Ainslie was intercepted by Ross Allum who bore down on goal.

The normally lethal former Edinburgh City striker fired in a low shot only to be thwarted by a superb one handed stop by Kieran Wright.

Billy Miller and Lewis Swaney both went close for Gala.

With half an hour gone Stuart Noble tangled with Spanish midfielder Igor Gabiola on the edge of the area and Beesley stepped up to fire an unstoppable free-kick.

Spartans should have extended their lead just before the break when on-loan Rangers defender Jason Krones’s pass was intercepted by Allum who tried to chip Wright from the edge of the area. The young keeper just managed to get his hands on the ball to keep the half time score at 1-0.

Early in the second half Gala midfielder Darren Smith lofted a free-kick high into the penalty area. Spartans keeper Blair Carswell seemed to lose the flight of the ball in the blazing sun and the visitors were delighted to see it nestle into the net without any other player getting a touch.

The home side were determined to regain the lead and Gala were relieved to see another Beesley free-kick narrowly clear the bar.

Samuel introduced one of his under 20 players just after the hour mark and Cameron Dawson almost scored with his first touch.

The youngster, who was making his senior debut, managed to clip the ball over the onrushing Wright but his delicate chip landed on the roof of the net.

The introduction of Des Sutherland on 65 minutes increased the visitors' attacking options and they battled hard all over the pitch to ensure they emerged with at least a point.

With the clock ticking down Craig Stevenson fired in a cross following a sweeping move but substitute Dawson’s header cleared the bar just when it looked like Spartans might grab a late winner.

Afterwards a delighted Steven Noble said: “That was certainly a hard fought point - our first ever here in the Lowland League.

"I thought our back four were excellent throughout.

"Whilst it was a collective effort with everybody working hard, I have to mention both of the Kieran’s - Wright and Ainslie. Kieran in goals has been fantastic for us all season and despite one early mistake, Kieran Ainslie proved he can be a valuable signing for us.”

Gala captain Billy Miller added: “We’ve now taken four out of six points against a great Spartans side this season.

"We have been playing well in recent weeks but we had to work very hard in the heat today. Although we only gained a point it feels like a victory to come from behind and take something from the game, especially here at Ainslie Park.”

Gala Fairydean Rovers: K Wright, L Stephen, L Swaney, J Krones, K Ainslie, B Miller, D Smith, S Bonnington, (D Sutherland 65) S Noble, S Paliczka, R Aitchison. Unused Subs: S Main, S Noble, J Shiel, Trialist.