Gala Fairydean v Annan Athletic
Annan Athletic secured their place in the draw for the Fourth Round of the Scottish Cup at the 3G Arena Stadium against Lowland League side Gala Fairydean Rovers courtesy of an Aidan Smith goal scored just after half time.
The tie was in doubt following the overnight gales which had caused structural damage to the fencing at the Arena Stadium but Annan were delighted when the match got the go ahead from referee George Calder.
Annan were backed by a large vociferous support who had made the journey up to Gala, the match as expected turned out to be a tight affair with Annan having the best of opportunities but failing to put the match to bed leaving it for an anxious ending to a splendid cup tie.
The Annan team showed changes with a starting place awarded to Kyle Fleming who replaced Lewis Hunter in midfield and it was a welcome return to the starting line up for Cameron Clark following his long term ankle injury with Clark being installed at the centre of defence in place of Captain Steven Swinglehurst who was relegated to the bench.
The first half started brightly for the home team but Gala failed to really put any pressure on the well organised Annan defence and keeper Annan keeper Greg Fleming was rarely called into action.
Tommy Goss missed a half chance as Annan created 3 opportunities within a five minute spell, Annan’s main threat was down the right flank where Chris Johnston was a constant thorn in the side and he was very unlucky not to score in the 27th minute when he finished a glorious move off with a low shot which beat keeper Harris Spratt but the ball cannoned off the base of the post much to the delight of the home defence. Minutes later Johnston was involved again picking out Dominic Docherty who’s header went agonisingly wide of the target with the keeper beaten. It was a good period of the match for Annan but Greg Fleming had to be on his toes to cut out the danger in the 39th minute dealing with a long ball played over the top of the Annan defence.
The second half started with Annan introducing Steven Swinglehurst who replaced Charlie Birch with Cameron Clark taking over at left back. Annan started the half well forcing the home team to defend deep, these were anxious moments for Gala and in the 50th minute Annan’s pressure paid off as Moxon’s effort was deflected for a corner kick and from the resulting corner Steven Swinglehurst rose above everybody at the back post to head Chris Johnston’s corner towards goal before Aidan Smith prodded into the net. This proved to be the defining moment in the match and gave Annan a foothold on the match that they never looked like conceding.
Both teams made changes as the half progressed Tommy Goss was replaced by Tony Wallace in the 70th minute and Iain Anderson replaced the Kyle Fleming in the 84th minute. As the match entered the closing stages Annan squandered a glorious opportunity to seal the match when Anderson laid the ball on a plate for Dominick Docherty who somehow scooped the ball over the ball over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
Gala pushed men forward in the closing minutes but Annan comfortably held out to proceed to the fourth round of the cup. Looking at the results elsewhere there were several eye catching results notably Clydebanks 2-0 victory over Clyde, Auchinleck’s one nil victory over Hamilton and Banks of Dee’s two nil victory over East Fife.