Gala Fairydean Rovers 1

East Stirling 3

(after extra time)

Kenny Paterson at Netherdale

THE swish of Andy Rodgers’ right foot is all that stood between Gala Fairydean Rovers and a much needed South Challenge Cup win.

Gala produced one of their best showings of the season to firstly go ahead through Adam Watson’s superb first half goal, then defend bravely against a talented East Stirling side.

But with two minutes to go, Rodgers showed why he has scored over 100 goals at SPFL level with a classy finish, which allowed Shire to go on to claim an extra time win.

It left Gala manager Stevie Noble deconsolidate at full time, but he was encouraged by a number of impressive performances, namely Ross Aitchison, Craig Heugh and on-loan Hibs man Watson.

Noble said: “I thought the players were outstanding and gave everything. Some of them had to play through the pain barrier and others had not played for a few weeks.

“I am really disappointed for the players but if we play like that in the coming weeks we will start to pick up results.”

Gala are on a rotten run of form, having lost seven of their last nine games going into this tie against a team which inflicted their record defeat last season with a 10-1 hammering.

But Gala matched their opponents for long spells and created numerous chances in the first half against a nervy looking Shire backline.

After Paul Sludden and Steven Brisbane had gone close for the visitors, the hugely impressive Watson curled in a fine 25 yard effort with 22 minutes gone.

The goal invigorated Gala, and Jamie Barclay had to make two smart stops to deny Stuart Noble and Watson from making it 2-0.

There was controversy at the other end when Andy Rodgers had a shot cleared off the line which East Stirling claimed should have been deemed a goal but Gala created further chances and really should have taken a two goal lead into the second half, with Stuart Noble and Aitchison both missing the target with decent chances.

Gala’s Sean Guiney almost gifted Shire an equaliser at the start of the second half but his diving header was clawed away from the top corner by home goalkeeper Lewis Muir.

Liam Allison had a header over for East Stirling but Gala were dangerous on the break and Sean Paliczka almost sealed the victory only to pull an angled shot just wide.

For the final 15 minutes, East Stirling battered the Gala penalty area but the homesters stood firm, with centre halves Aitchison and Guiney bravely denying their visitors.

But just as Gala looked like they had survived, Rodgers struck with a thumping drive to spark wild celebrations and leave Gala contemplating an extra 30 minutes.

Gala kept battling in extra time, but two more cracking goals sealed the game for Shire.

A lovely free kick move gave Allison a tap in to make it 2-1 on 100 minutes, and Sludden’s brilliant chip killed off Gala with eight minutes to go.

Gala Fairydean Rovers: L. Muir, L. Stephen, S. Main, R. Aitchison, S. Guiney, C. Heugh, D. Smith, A. Watson (G. Rose 74), S. Noble, R. Craigie (F. Neave 83), S. Paliczka (B. Miller 107).