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Derek Hall’s report for Linlithgow Rose v Gala Fairydean Rovers on 29th May 2022

todayMay 30, 2022


Linlithgow Rose 3-1 Gala Fairydean Rovers

East of Scotland Qualifying Cup Final
A glorious day at Penicuik brought out a crowd of around 600 to watch an EOS v LL Cup Final as Linlithgow Rose squared off against Gala Fairydean Rovers. Within fifteen seconds, Rose’s Jamie Allan took the ball off Gala’s Liam Campbell and strode forward before firing in a low 20 yarder which keeper Josh Blair was right behind. Alan Docherty then found Connor McMullan who was taken down 25 yards out by Gala’s Campbell but Docherty’s free kick went tamely past the post. Gala’s first chance was a free kick delivered into the Rose box but a high boot by Marc Berry saw a free kick awarded to Rose. After eight minutes, Alan Sneddon and Sean Heaver worked a one two down the right flank for Linlithgow but Sean Docherty was there for Rovers to shield the ball over the goal line. A minute later, A. Docherty worked the ball inside to Connor McMullan and his rasping drive from 25 yards brought out an excellent save from Gala keeper Blair as he dived at full stretch to turn the ball behind with a strong left hand. Gala responded as Zander Murray sent Berry down the left flank and a strong tackle by Jamie Allan saw a goal kick awarded to Rose by referee Ally Grieve, much to the dismay of the Rovers man. Allison then blocked off Murray in midfield and Kyle Wilkie delivered a decent free kick into the Rose box which saw Arron Darge’s header go a yard wide. After thirteen minutes, Thom caught Murray in midfield with a flailing left arm which saw the Gala striker have to leave the field for a blood injury and which also saw the Rose captain cautioned by referee Grieve. Wilkie drove the resultant free kick straight into the Rose wall and then McMullan brought down Berry near the touchline with a crunching challenge which earned him a strong warning from the referee with the free kick seeing another Darge header this time taken by Rose keeper Lewis McMinn at his near post. With seventeen minutes gone, there was confusion on the edge of the Gala box as Gregor Jordan tried to shield the ball back to his keeper and the ball broke off Blair as he dived but McMullan couldn’t turn the loose ball home from wide right and a goal kick was the outcome. A minute later, Campbell brought down Allan inside the centre circle and the Gala no11 found his name also going into the referees book for his reaction to the award rather than the foul itself. Thom sent the free kick deep into the Gala box and Allison rose highest to power in a header which Gala keeper Blair took confidently at his near post. A nice through ball then saw Ryan Schiavone almost in but Rose keeper McMinn was alert and quickly out of his box to hammer clear. After 22 minutes, A. Docherty sent Cammy Thomson to the goal line but Jordan was there with an excellent block for Gala to concede the corner which came to nothing. S. Docherty then tried to use the pace of Murray but once again Rose keeper McMinn was smartly off his line to dive on the ball. A long throw from Gala saw Murray win the knockdown and his header went right through the Rose six yard box, but there was nobody there for the Borders side to add a final touch. After 26 minutes, Allan was short with a pass pack and Murray got to the ball but was forced wide by the diving Rose keeper McMinn, which allowed Allan to redeem the situation as he put the ball behind. Three minutes later, A. Docherty played a lovely diagonal crossfield pass to Heaver who cut in on his left foot and his sixteen yard drive saw Gala captain Gareth Rodger bravely put his head in to turn the ball over for another Linlithgow corner and the same player was there again to head away Heaver’s corner kick. A. Docherty then found Callum Bremner who left Campbell for dead and his cut back into the middle saw Gala keeper Blair make a brilliant block with his right boot as the West Lothian side began to crank up the pressure and this time Allison sent his header wide from yet another Heaver corner. Allan received a warning from the referee before casual play on the edge of his own penalty area by Rovers’ Darge saw him lose possession to A. Docherty but his attempted cross was headed clear by S. Docherty. However, the opening goal finally arrived after 36 minutes after a nice move involving Bremner, McMullan and McKenzie and when McMullan cut the ball back from the goal line, A. Docherty took a touch before rifling a lovely right footed angled drive into the far corner of the net from around fifteen yards out of the reach of keeper Blair for a lead which Rose certainly merited at this point in the game. Alan Sneddon then sent Heaver down the right flank as Rose looked to press home their advantage but S. Docherty was quickly across with a good tackle which then saw Thom on the end of Heaver’s set piece but his header was also deflected wide. Heaver sent over yet another corner and this time, McMullan escaped his marker at the near post but glanced his header over the top. Rose were looking to add a second before the break and yet another Heaver corner after 41 minutes saw a close range header by Thom blocked at point blank range by Gala keeper Blair and as McMullan tried to turn the loose ball home, the effort was deflected wide with the Gala keeper still on the ground beside the post and he required treatment before the game could be restarted. However a minute from the break, the West Lothian side were stunned by a Gala equaliser which came after a Rose free kick was cleared out and Campbell played a lovely ball down the inside left channel which sliced through the Rose defence and Murray raced onto the ball and from the edge of the box, he calmly clipped the ball past the onrushing McMinn with a composed left foot finish to bring Rovers level pretty much against the run of play, but nobody from Gala was remotely bothered about that. A minute into stoppage time, Gala’s Wilkie fell on the ball in midfield and appeared to drag the ball back with his hand, but referee Grieve contented himself this time with a warning. As the half time whistle went, the final was now beautifully poised, but Linlithgow would be leaving the field a bit shell shocked after dominating most of the first period, only to be caught by a classic sucker punch from a Gala side who had stuck to their task and got some late, if somewhat unexpected, reward.
The first minute of the second half had A. Docherty taking on both Jordan and Shiavone before firing a rising angled drive over the Gala crossbar. Gala had clearly taken heart from getting back on level terms and were already having a bit more of the ball in the early stages of the second half and a quick free kick found Murray on the edge of the Rose box, but Thom was there for Linlithgow with the interception. Slack play at the back from Rose after 52 minutes almost saw Murray close down keeper McMinn, whose rushed clearance went straight out. Heaver then drove powerfully forward through midfield for Rose but a beautifully timed tackle from S. Docherty saw the Gala no2 bring the ball away. Two minutes later, another angled 15 yard drive from A. Docherty saw Gala keeper Blair take no chances as he palmed the ball behind at his near post and from Heaver’s corner, Thom sent his near post eight yard header wide. After 55 minutes, Gala carved out a great chance as Shiavone used his strength to outmuscle Thomson down the right flank and his cut back off Berry saw Thom and keeper McMinn somehow manage to block the ball between them at the near post. The West Lothian side had another major let off two minutes later as Shiavone managed to force his way through between Thom and Allison on the edge of the Rose box but he was off balance as he dragged the ball wide past keeper McMinn who was somehow able to get back to palm the ball away at the base of his right hand post and onto the leg of Shiavone for a goal kick. After 59 minutes, Linlithgow made a switch as Mark Stowe was brought on for Sneddon. Berry and Murray played a one two on the edge of the Rose penalty area but this only resulted in the games first offside after an hours play. Murray then dropped the ball back for Campbell but he pulled his 22 yard drive well wide of the Rose goals. Gala then produced some great combination play involving Wilkie, Campbell and Shiavone and when the ball was superbly turned back at full stretch by Berry, Murray’s placed downward header saw Linlithgow keeper McMinn collide with the post as he clawed the ball behind, and he required treatment before continuing for what was clearly a head knock. At this stoppage, the West Lothian side made their second change as Bremner was replaced by Jack Ogilvie. After 67 minutes, handball by Thomson near the corner of the Rose penalty area gave Wilkie the chance to fire over a driven cross which Rodger headed only a yard over the top from around ten yards. Two minutes later, a careless pass from Gala’s Jordan saw McMullan slide the ball through to Heaver but Darge was across with an excellent challenge to snuff out the danger. After 74 minutes, A. Docherty sent over a great far post cross into the Gala box which was met on the run by McMullan but he couldn’t get his header on target. Fifteen minutes from time, Gala’s S. Docherty took a knock which required some treatment but he was able to continue. There were unsurprisingly a few tired legs on show now but at this stage, Gala were still looking the team most likely. With 77 minutes gone, Gala went to their bench and Shiavone made his way off, with Daryl Healy replacing him. Stowe then found Heaver and his dangerous cross into the Gala box saw Darge dive to head the ball behind for a corner and this time it was Stowe who swung over the corner and Thom was up once more to power in an eight yard header which keeper Blair beat down and then grabbed at the second attempt. Ten minutes from time, Wilkie played Campbell down the right flank and he beat Thomson and got into the Rose box on the angle but keeper McMinn was bravely out to dive at his feet and make the block to concede a corner which resulted in a powerful header back from Healy and Murray turned the ball goalwards forcing keeper McMinn into action again as he made the save amongst the boots at the second attempt. However eight minutes from time, the Gala defence failed to deal with a high ball and it dropped for A. Docherty who was given plenty of time to pull the ball down before picking his spot in the far corner and he fired in a left foot 20 yard drive all along the ground and in off the base of the post past the helpless Blair who was rooted to the spot. Gala would feel they had more of the play in the second period but a failure to take their chances had now come back to bite them. Six minutes from time, Stowe couldn’t resist a comment to referee Grieve and the Linlithgow substitute was left in no doubt as to what any further comments would bring. With 86 minutes gone, an Ogilvie cut back picked out Stowe and his drive from fifteen yards was cleared off the Gala line by Rodger. Gala then brought on Ciaran Chalmers for Campbell, who was suffering from a bit of cramp. With three minutes remaining, Heaver of Linlithgow picked up a needless yellow card for delaying the restart of play as Rose looked to shut the game down. Two minutes from time, A. Docherty sent Heaver down the left flank and a heavy challenge from Rodger saw Rose awarded a free kick which didn’t yield any reward. However as the game entered the 90th minute, a nice ball through from Thom picked out Heaver just inside the Gala box and he sidestepped his man before placing a lovely left foot fourteen yard drive across Blair and into the far corner of the net to finally seal the victory for the men from West Lothian. A minute into stoppage time, Linlithgow replaced McMullan with Willis Hare, but the final whistle brought the realisation that the Cup would be heading back along the M9 to Linlithgow rather than down the A7 to Galashiels. A fascinating and entertaining cup final which kept the big crowd present guessing almost right to the end and which summed up the unpredictability of football which fans love and hate in equal measure. Rose completely dominated the first period but found themselves level at the break and Gala then had much the better of the second half but ultimately ended up losing 3-1. Congratulations go to Linlithgow who will also have a further chance of silverware in next Sunday’s League Cup Final at Newtongrange, but for Gala, it’s very much a case of what might have been after contributing so much to an excellent Cup Final.

Written by: Russell Aitken

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