Whitehill Welfare 4

Gala Fairydean Rovers 2

Kenny Paterson

at Ferguson Park

WHEN Stevie Noble looks back on his five year reign as Gala Fairydean Rovers manager, he won’t remember Ferguson Park too fondly.

The Rosewell home of Whitehill Welfare was where he and Fairydean Rovers started their Lowland League adventure in August 2013 with a 4-2 loss.

Spookily, he ended his managerial stint in the Lowland League five years later with the same result at the same park, as Gala never recovered from losing two goals in the first three minutes.

The result means Whitehill will play in the Lowland League next season alongside Gala, whose status had already been assured by picking up eight points in their previous five games, alongside Vale of Leithen’s failure to beat Edusport three days earlier.

Noble added: “Whitehill were fighting for their lives and it showed in the opening stages.

“After that, we played really well on a difficult park and when we pulled it back to 2-1 I thought we would go on to win the game.

“But they got the next goal and it killed off the match.

“While I am disappointed to lose, the priority has always been to stay in the league and allow incoming manager Dean Shanks to progress the club next season, and I am so really pleased we have achieved that.”

Referee Craig Napier kicked off this game a couple of minutes before 3pm, and it appeared Gala’s players were still tying their bootlaces as they incredibly conceded two in the first 180 seconds.

Fabio Neto headed in a Jack Wright corner with far too much ease, before more woeful Gala defending saw Kyle Mitchell played clean through to finish well.

It was a dream start for Whitehill, who had lost eight games in a row and were fearing relegation.

Gala revived the Welfare nerves when they pulled one back, deservedly, eight minutes before the break when a great driving run by Craig Heugh played in David Brown whose low cross was controlled and finished well by Rhys Craigie.

With new manager Shanks watching on, the visitors started the second half well and looked like they had pulled themselves level when Darren Smith’s free kick reached centre half Kieran Ainslie. His volley beat Welfare keeper Ross Jardine but Scott Lucas did brilliantly to get back and clear off his own line.

Instead, it was Whitehill who got the next goal just a few minutes later.

More poor defending allowed substitute Darren McCraw a clear run on goal, and after his initial shot was well saved by Lewis Muir, the same player finished the rebound well to make it 3-1 with half an hour to go.

Josh Morris had been linked with a move to Netherdale earlier in the season and showed what he was capable of with a stunning free kick for 4-1 on 84 minutes, before Grant Rose pulled one back with a smart finish to restore some pride for Fairydean Rovers.

Gala Fairydean Rovers: L. Muir, B. Miller, S. Main, R. Aitchison, K. Ainslie, L. Stephen (F. Neave 69), D. Smith, C. Heugh, G. Rose, R. Craigie, D. Brown (G. Brown 74).