Saturday 24 September 2016, 15.00 Netherdale 3G Arena
The First Round proper of the Scottish Cup and a game between Lowland League Gala Fairydean Rovers and Fraserburgh of the Highland League.
First competitive sight of Gala this season, having taken in their pre-season game against Morpeth Town. They’ve not been setting the heather on fire with their start to the season and lie in twelfth place in the 16 team league with five games played. A terrible 6-1 reverse at the beginning of the month was followed up with wins over Preston Athletic and then Heston in the South of Scotland Cup.
Gala qualify automatically for the Scottish Cup as a member of the Scottish Football Association (SFA). The best performance by the club was reaching the third round, done on five occasions.
Sean Paliczka and David Bonnar, who left the club in the summer and signed for Superleague side Newtongrange Star, have both returned to the club just before the cup game and both go straight into the starting line-up.
Fraserburgh Football Club was formed in 1910 and have played at Bellslea Park since then.
They gained membership from the SFA, making them eligible to compete in both the Scottish Qualifying Cup and Scottish Cup. The Club gained entry into the Highland League in 1921, having competed in the Aberdeenshire Cup and Scottish Cup up until then.
They have won the Highland League three times, most recently in 2002, when it was the first time in 60 years. Last season saw them win the Aberdeenshire Cup and Aberdeenshire Shield. They finished 9th in the eighteen team league last season and go into the cup tie in fifth.
Fraserburgh, known locally as “the Broch”, play in black and white stripes due to a local harbour worker who had connections in Newcastle. The first side borrowed kit from Newcastle United and the tradition has remained.
Changes to the Scottish Cup format has meant that since 2007, all Highland League sides go straight into the first round. The most famous game in the club’s history came in the cup in 1959 when they defeated Dundee, who were one of the top teams in the country at the time, 1-0 at Bellslea Park.
Young midfielder Greg Buchan has signed for Fraserburgh for this season and Marc Lawrence is on loan from Peterhead. Striker Gary Harris signed just the week before from Deveronvale.
The official attendance was given as 250, although there didn’t look to be quite as many as that.
The first incident of note came in 7 minutes when Gala’s Herdman went down injured after conceding a corner under pressure from Harris. He may have fallen awkwardly or he may have been accidently stood on by Harris. There was certainly no intent involved.
In 10 minutes, a ball over the top gave Harris a chance inside the Gala box, but Wright did well to block his shot.
Johnston tried a ball across for Fraserburgh in 11 minutes and with Wright leaving it to go wide, it hit the post and ricocheted into the middle of the box and to the feet of West, but Wright recovered quickly to block
Herdman returned to the fray after treatment, but had to succumb to his injury in 15 minutes.
A slack pass by Main in 19 minutes gave the ball away to Combe who quickly transferred the ball to West on the left. He played the ball across goal for Harris to slide in and he put it high into the net to give Fraserburgh the lead.
Gala half cleared a corner in 23 minutes, but Combe found Johnston on the edge of the box to put Fraserburgh back on the attack, although he shot well over.
There was a delay in 31 minutes when the ball went over a fence, as there were no other balls to hand, but a replacement was quickly found.
Another corner by Fraserburgh was cleared to the edge of the box in 32 minutes and McBride latched onto it but shot wide.
A long bouncing ball towards the Fraserburgh box in 37 minutes by Waugh didn’t look dangerous, with Hay getting to the ball in front of Gala striker Noble, but he didn’t get enough purchase on his attempted header back to Leask. Noble nipped in between and took the ball round the keeper and slotted into the empty net for the equaliser.
A Gala one-two in 41 minutes saw Miller deep inside Fraserburgh territory, but a defender managed to get a foot in. The ball came to a Broch player on the edge of the box, but he miscontrolled it and it fell to McColm on the edge of the box. He sliced his shot well wide.
That last piece of action summed up the first half really. Disappointing fare in the first half, with misplaced passes, poor control and bad decision making the order of the day. The Broch seemed to struggle with the bounce of the ball on the artificial pitch. I don’t think they are very prominent in the Highlands.
There were some hefty challenges in midfield before the ball came to Gala’s Noble 22 yards out in 53 minutes. His curling effort was high, wide and not even remotely handsome.
A Gala free kick near the corner flag was taken by McColm in 62 minutes and found Palickza’s run to the near post, but he couldn’t get his effort on target.
McColm featured again in 65 minutes, when he hit a powerful shot towards the Fraserburgh goal from 25 yards, but it was too high.
In 66 minutes, Harris ran through into the Gala box, but under pressure, he couldn’t get power in his shot and it was an easy save for Wright.
Campbell shot for goal from the edge of the box in 77 minutes, but it was comfortable for Wright in the Gala goal.
A ball into the box by Gala’s McColm in 79 minutes was headed into the middle by Simpson and McBride contrived to head the ball into his own net to put Gala in front.
A minute after the goal, Fraserburgh were appealing for a penalty when Johnston looked to be pulled to the ground in the box by Waugh, but the referee gave a free kick the other way.
Johnston must have continued his protests, as in 81 minutes, the referee showed him a red card.
A quick break by the home side in 83 minutes saw them with a three on one situation, but the flag went up. Simpson ran on and shot into the net and was booked.
With three minutes left, Gala wrapped up the win. Palickza played the ball from the right into the feet of Noble in the box. He turned well and held off a defender and shot into the bottom corner to the delight of the home bench.
In injury time, Palickza crossed to the back post where it was headed back across goal by Noble to Simpson, but the Gala sub sclaffed the ball wide.
Both sides can play a lot better, but Gala won’t care about that after progress to the next round. Fraserburgh will be kicking themselves at losing out on what they would have considered a winnable tie. Mistakes from their central defenders gave away the first two goals with first Hay and then McBride (who from our vantage point in the stand looked like David Brent from “The Office”) the culprits.
Fraserburgh shaded the first half and Gala the second. Collins moving into midfield and Hope going to the defence was a good move and Collins’ energy and tackling made a difference in the middle of the park. Noble was the best on the day, holding the ball up well and scoring two goals. Harris up front for Fraserburgh had a good first half, culminating in his first goal for the club.
Full Time: Gala Fairydean Rovers 3 Fraserburgh 1
Gala Fairydean Rovers: 1 Kieran Wright, 2 Lee Stephen, 3 Kevin Waugh, 4 Scott Main, 5 Ben Herdman (Kyle Collins 15), 6 Dean McColm, 7 Billy Miller (Danny Simpson 75), 8 Taylor Hope, 9 Stuart Noble, 10 Sean Palickza, 11 David Bonnar. Subs: 12 Danny Simpson, 14 George Windram, 15 Shane Bonnington, 16 Kyle Collins, 17 Allan Nicol, 18 Steven Noble.
Fraserburgh: 1 Paul Leask, 2 Marc Dickson, 6 Russell McBride (Stuart Taylor 84), 4 Cameron Buchan, 5 Bryan Hay, 3 Dean Cowie, 7 Michael Rae, 8 William West, 9 Gary Harris (Greg Buchan 68), 10 Graham Johnston, 11 Aidan Combe (Paul Campbell 72). Subs: 12 Stuart Taylor, 14 Paul Campbell, 15 Greg Buchan, 16 Ryan Christie, 17 Ryan Cowie, 18 Marc Lawrence, GK Edward Flinn.
Referee: David Dickinson (not that one)