Gala Fairydean Rovers 2

Berwick Rangers 2

David Knox

at Netherdale

THERE was something of a carnival atmosphere around Netherdale on Saturday.

Not only were the Langlee Lad and Lass paraded as pre-match guests of honour, but Berwick arrived with a flag-waving 200 fans.

And none of them were let down as there was enough excitement on the park to satisfy the most sullen of supporters.

While Berwick will rightly be licking their wounds after being denied by a couple of close offside calls, Gala could have added a final twist if they’d managed to convert late counter attacks.

Fairydean Rovers assistant Edie Mangan told us: “When you consider the amount of players we have missing it was a good point.

“It was a game we could easily have lost but it was also a game we could have won late on.

“We had to roll our sleeves up at times but we fought well today.”

Gala’s injury problems led to an emergency loan deal being agreed for striker Alan McRitchie to walk straight into the team.

And Stuart Noble was talked out of his 18-month retirement to take a place on the bench.

It was Berwick who got off to a dream start with Daryl Healy heading home an opener after only four minutes.

Cameron Lumsden almost added a second with an angled drive as Gala struggled to match the visitors.

But, with their first genuine attack on 16 minutes, the home team were awarded a penalty after McRitchie was caught by Jack Cook.

Scott Taylor Mackenzie converted the spot kick to tie the scores.

And he was given the chance to fire his team in front ten minutes later, as another penalty was given for Kevin Waugh’s challenge on Niall Kelly.

Sean Brennan pulled off a fantastic save this time, but Jack Cowan won the race to convert the rebound.

Within three minutes Berwick had drawn level with Healy again finding enough room to head beyond Fraser Morton from close range.

The large travelling support thought Lewis Barr had fired them back in front just before the break, but the former East Fife midfielder was flagged for offside.

Only a finger-tip save from Brennan prevented Cowan volleying Gala back in front at the start of the second half.

But for the next half hour or so the Berwick number one was nothing more than a spectator as his team-mates laid siege on the Gala goal.

Ricky Miller fired over before Waugh headed Cameron Lumsden’s deep cross just wide.

Ciaren Chalmers beat Morton with a looping header in the 66th minute but Ben Herdman managed to clear off the line.

Chalmers did find the net five minutes later with another header, but he was controversially waved for offside.

A tremendous Morton save also denied Ally Forster’s powerful low drive finding the net.

Berwick continued to bombard the Gala goal with crosses and corners, but it was at the other end where there was almost a last-gasp winner.

In the 87th minute Marc Berry raced into the area only for Brennan to save.

And substitutes Phil Addison and Noble combined on another sweeping counter attack in injury time, only for Brennan to save again.

Berwick manager Ian Little said: “We started well and played well in spells.

“There were some dubious offside decisions that cost us but we don’t want to make excuses.

“If we had made better decisions in the final third we could have won that by two or three today.

“But we are a young team and the players are learning every week.”

Gala Fairydean Rovers. F Morton, L Kinchant, A Chingwalu, B Herdman, L Grant, N Kelly, Y Mendes, S Taylor Mackenzie, A McRitchie (P Addison 85), M Berry & J Cowan (S Noble 63).

Berwick Rangers. S Brennan, C Brian, K Waugh, J Cook (K Jack 73), R Miller, E Smith (C Chalmers 63), C Lumsden, A Forster, D Healy, L Barr & Y Osei (D Purves 59).