Civil service Strollers 2

Gala Fairydean Rovers 2

Graeme McIver

at Christie Gilles Park

A STUNNING late strike from Ruari Paton earned 10-man Gala Fairydean Rovers a share of the spoils in this entertaining Lowland League fixture.

Deep into injury time the Irish teenager lined up a free-kick on the edge of the home-side's penalty area - before firing an unstoppable shot beyond Civil keeper Josh Donaldson.

Gala lined up with new-signing Scott Taylor-Mackenzie starting in midfield.

The former Livingstone and St Johnstone youngster arrived at Netherdale just 24 hours earlier from Kelty Hearts in a deal that resulted in former Hearts star Sean McKirdy heading in the other direction.

The visitors almost got off to the perfect start in the opening seconds when Paton was played straight through on goal.

Rather than try a shot the youngster elected to try and pass into the centre of the box allowing Civil to scramble the ball clear.

It was the home side who took an early lead just moments later when former Selkirk play-maker Jordan Hopkinson worked space in the box to fire past Paddy Martin.

There were a few meaty challenges on a heavy pitch and twice within the opening ten minutes referee Simon MacLean had to speak to home players after Taylor-Mackenzie and the returning Dale Baxter were sent sprawling.

On the half-hour mark Civil almost doubled their lead when Hopkinson broke free of the Gala defence but Martin saved comfortably. Moments later Gala were level.

Dale Baxter burst into the penalty area and was brought clattering to the ground.

Paton stepped up to confidently slot the ball past Donaldson.

Buoyed by the goal the visitors played their best football of the game, forcing successive corners and coming close to taking the lead on two occasions, both involving Phil Addison.

First of all the former Selkirk striker latched onto a Taylor-Mackenzie free kick and forced a save from Donaldson, the next came from a corner when he fired narrowly over.

Right on half-time Civil also had good opportunities to score.

Hopkinson fired narrowly over from the left hand-side of the area and Mark McConnell forced a fine save from Martin when he rose un-opposed at the back-post from a corner on the left.

The second half continued to be open and entertaining.

Gala forced the early pace following a fantastic midfield drive from Sandy Cunningham led to Paton switching play to Addison who fired straight at Donaldson.

Then the home side came close when former Gala man Kevin Waugh stung Paddy Martin’s hands with a well-struck free-kick from the edge of the box.

Gary Jardine’s Civil have been the surprise package of the Lowland League this season and a fine run of results has seen them move into the top four of the table.

Gala had Martin to thank for keeping the home team out with a number of important saves.

On 77 minutes however David Churchill latched onto a defence splitting pass, held off a challenge from Tommy Patterson and fired the home-side back in front.

Gala pushed for an equaliser but it looked like they would emerge empty handed when Reese Donaldson received his marching orders following two yellow cards in the 88th and 89th minutes.

However Dean Shank’s side refused to throw in the towel and when Phil Addison was fouled on the edge of the area deep into stoppage time Paton sparked wild celebrations with his expertly struck free-kick.

Manager Shanks told us: "We’re obviously delighted to take a point in the circumstances.

"Down to ten-men against one of the in-form sides in the league we continued to force the play and got our reward.

"Once again we have played a top side in the Lowland league and matched them.

"I was delighted with the debut of Scott Taylor-Mackenzie. He has not had a full 90 minutes in over two months but I thought he showed today that he can be an important player for Gala during the remainder of this season and next as we look to improve our squad.”

Gala Fairydean Rovers: P Martin, R Donaldson, S Main (T Patterson 68), P Scullion, K Ainslie, K Watson, S Cunningham, S Mackenzie, R Paton, D Baxter & P Addison. Subs unused: D Bell, C Green, B Mullen