Gala Fairydean Rovers 1

University of Stirling 1

GALA Fairydean Rovers huffed and puffed but were ultimately consigned to a solitary point from their fixture with Stirling University – although the fact that none of their relegation rivals picked up any points will perhaps soften the blow.

Manager Steven Noble may well have been happy with the point, but he wouldn’t have been at all pleased with the slow way in which his Gala Fairydean Rovers team started the game.

A slack foul on the edge of the box presented a good chance to the visitors with four minutes on the clock and Ross Kellock’s angled drive smashed off the crossbar, with goalkeeper Paddy Martin beaten.

The home side rallied and forced a golden chance of their own three minutes later.

Sean Paliczka picked up possession in the centre circle and threaded a wonderful ball through to Grant Rose who rounded Kevin Walker in the Stirling goal, but his shot trickled agonisingly into the side-netting.

Deep free kicks have been an issue for Gala Fairydean Rovers this season, and this continued on 17 minutes. Dominic Slattery swung a good ball in from just over the hallway line, but fortunately for the home side Angus Mailer couldn’t steer his free header on target.

Grant Rose and Sean Paliczka once again linked well with half an hour gone, with the young striker latching onto a good ball over the top. But before he could make anything of the chance he was barged to the turf by Kevin Walker, who was alert to the threat and duly received a booking for his troubles.

The University of Stirling forced themselves ahead just 12 minutes into the second half through winger Blair Lyons, who had an impressive game.

A ball in from the left wasn’t dealt with by the Gala defence, and Paddy Martin did well to parry Paul McCafferty’s close range attempt, but the ball landed at the feet of Lyons, who dispatched an easy finish gleefully into the net.

News quickly filtered through that both Vale of Leithen and Dalbeattie Star were losing and this seemed to spark a change in the home team who began to assert themselves on the match, as Stirling were pushed back deeper and deeper by Gala’s relentless pressure.

Rhys Craigie was brought on for the impressive Sean Paliczka, and Craigie carried on in the same vein as the man he replaced – his good interplay creating a good crossing opportunity with just 15 minutes remaining on the clock.

His swirling delivery was cleared out for a corner. From that corner only a miraculous save from Walker stopped Liam Chambers opening his account with a powerful header.

Two minutes later Gala Fairydean Rovers dragged themselves level. The ball broke to Darren Smith in the left-hand channel and he delivered an inch-perfect cross for Grant Rose at the back post who slid and swung a leg at the ball and looped it over the despairing Walker.

Steven Noble’s men were in the ascendency going into the closing stages and their comeback was almost complete on 81 minutes through Liam Chambers, who’s shot just trickled wide following a good delivery from Rhys Craigie on the left.

GFR: Martin, Miller, Ainslie, Aitchison, Main, Palizcka (Craigie), Smith, Heugh (Neave), Rose, Chambers, Rendle (D. Brown).