Spartans 2

Gala Fairydean Rovers 0

Graeme McIver

at Ainslie Park

IT will be of little comfort to Fairydean Rovers gaffer Dean Shanks that once again his young side performed well against a top Lowland League side but emerged with a fourth straight defeat.

Since a good run of form at the turn of the year the Netherdale side have faced all top four sides in the Lowland table, playing well but ultimately falling just short.

Added to Shanks' woes has been an injury list that would cripple any side.

Included in this have been influential defender Ricky Miller who broke his foot just before New Year, the creative Dale Baxter has been a long term absentee and Tommy Patterson made the bench on Friday night after several weeks out with a knee injury.

After only ten minutes under the Ainslie Park lights on Friday night left back Scott Main hobbled out of the game with a knee injury and then midfield dynamo Sean McKirdy was forced off due to a calf problem.

Manager Shanks said: "Once again we have performed well in difficult circumstances.

"We have played all four of the top teams in the league in successive weeks and have shown that we can match anybody.

"The fact that we have had so many injuries and guys playing through the pain barrier shows me that along with talent and ability we have great character in this side that we will build on for next season."

The teams took to the field on an unusually warm February evening in front of an expectant crowd.

In contrast to Gala’s injury woes, Dougie Samuel’s Spartans were able to field more or less their strongest side.

The defending champions had won their previous three games and started strongly.

The match was competitive from the off with Gala players Sandy Cunninghame and Darren Smith and home striker Bair Atkinson picking up first half bookings.

Spartans took the lead on 25 minutes when a free-kick from the right was floated into the box.

Blair Tolmie was the quickest to react to a knock down to fire the home side in front.

The Edinburgh team pushed for a second and on-loan Hibs stopper Paddy Martin did well to save from Atkinson.

The injuries to Main and McKirdy meant Gala were forced into playing Patterson who had not featured since December and local youngster Charlie Green.

The 17 year old performed well in his first outing for his home-town team.

Right-back Ryan Stevenson was once again impressive and Phil Addison will benefit from 90 minutes under his belt as he returns from a long-term injury.

As is often the case at Ainslie Park, David Greenhill was pulling the strings in midfield and almost set up Jack Smith for a second.

Moments later Mikey Herd forced a stunning stop from Martin.

However the second goal came on 75 minutes when Smith pounced after the Gala keeper palmed out MacDonald’s shot.

Gala’s best chance of the game came after good work down the left and a cross into the box that eluded Blair Carswell in the home goal but the visitors were unable to capitalise.

The Fairydean Rovers will now have a welcome two-week break in order to re-charge their batteries and get players back fit.

Gala Fairydean Rovers: P Martin, R Stevenson, S Main (T Patterson 10), K Ainslie, D Smith, S McKirdy (C Green 47), K Watson, R Paton, S Cunningham & P Addison. Unused Subs: H Puller, G Amos.