Berwick Rangers 2

Gala Fairydean Rovers 2

David Knox

at Shielfield Park

GALA gaffer Neil Hastings still praised his players despite conceding a 94th minute equaliser to let slip two valuable points.

Saturday’s draw ended a barren three-match run of defeats.

And it also marked a return to form for the majority of Hastings’ squad.

The manager said: “If you’d asked me before the game if I’d have been happy with a draw, I would have said yes.

“But it’s disappointing to lose a player and then a goal in the space of five minutes and give away our lead.

“Overall we were much better today than we’ve been and the performance certainly gives us something to build on in the coming weeks.

“We had a few boys back today but we also lost one or two more with niggles – hopefully we’ll have more back next week.”

Despite Berwick enjoying plenty early possession Gala’s defence, with new signing Gareth Rodger impressing on his debut, coped fairly well.

And it was the visitors’ counter attacks which continued to create the chances.

Marc Berry tested Sean Brennan with a powerful low drive in the sixth minute.

And approaching the quarter hour Niall Kelly’s terrific curling cross was just inches away from being headed home by Jacob Campbell at the back post.

Rodger did get his head to Scott-Taylor Mackenzie’s freekick on 24 minutes but again Brennan reacted well to save.

Just 30 seconds after Berwick’s first shot on target - a Dan Purves effort which was saved by Fraser Morton – the Fairydean Rovers edged in front.

A cross into the area wasn’t cleared by Darren Smith and Danny Galbraith nipped in to steer the ball into the bottom corner.

The home team should have levelled on the stroke of half time but Yaw Osei could only head Greg Donald’s inch-perfect cross over the bar from 12 yards.

It was an improved Berwick that appeared for the second half with Kevin Waugh and Kieran Chalmers both going close to equalising.

The pressure finally paid off in the 59th minute as Osei held off the challenge from Rodger to curl a fantastic shot into the far corner of the net.

Most of the 336 crowd were expecting the home team to go on and claim the victory, but Gala responded well.

Only a fantastic Brennan save to finger-tip a Kelly shot round the post prevented Gala going back in front on 76 minutes.

But the keeper could do little during the resultant corner as Galbraith pounced on the half clearance to drill a powerful low shot into the net.

Berwick responded with Purves forcing a fine save from Morton five minutes later.

Just as it was looking like Gala would hold on for the points, Mackenzie picked up his second yellow card in the 89th minute.

And five minutes later substitute Euan Smith found plenty of room to race towards the area and fire a low shot beyond the unsighted Morton to level.

There was still time for 10-man Gala to almost snatch back the lead as Marc Berry beat the offside-trap but his angled blast was brilliantly saved by Brennan.

Berwick boss Ian Little said: “I thought we were awful in the first half.

“We asked the players to show us a lot more in the second half – to perform for us, for themselves and for the fans.

“I’m happy that we showed the fight to come back twice but we need to be a lot better than we were today.”

Berwick Rangers. S Brennan, C Chalmers (J Wright 78), K Waugh, G Donald, J Cook, C Brian, D Purves, D Smith (E Smith 37), Y Osei, L Barr & J Balde.

Gala Fairydean Rovers. F Morton, L Grant, A Chingwalu, B Herdman, G Rodger, S T Mackenzie, M Berry, N Kelly (M Fairburn 90), R Aitchison, D Galbraith & J Campbell (Y Gallantes 63).