|CB||5||Andy Ward (c)|
|CM||7||Ross Ballantyne (vc)|
Back to Lowland League duty for the Colts following their 2-1 extra time win over EoSFL high flyers Leith Athletic in the South of Scotland cup last Friday. On a run of 8 games unbeaten, winning the last 3, the home side came into this one full of confidence. As the match got underway in the Broadwood sunshine there were two changes for the home side. O'Neill and Ballantyne returned at the expense of Tilley and McIntyre.
The opening exchanges saw Gala enjoy the lion's share of possession as it seemed the Colts were content to allow their visitors to play in front of them. Doohan in the home goal remained completely untroubled as the home side, who had conceded one last minute penalty in their previous six, continued to look miserly.
There was a moment of controversy within the opening minute of the game. Barclay collected in midfield and directly in front of the two dugouts was caught high and very late by the Gala captain. An early decision for the official who opted for yellow, a sigh of relief for the Gala skipper who could consider the colour of the card fortunate.
As the home side settled into the game they dominated the first half chances. First up it was Selkirk drawing an excellent save from the Gala keeper, Kirwan marauding down the left flank to collect a fine pass from Broadfoot before squaring to Selkirk who connected well on the run from 6 yards.
Barclay then exchanged passes with O'Neill and Selkirk before crashing a left foot drive off the crossbar and over with the keeper helpless. The keeper found himself in the same situation again moments later as Munn collected a pass 20 yards from goal and fizzed a low drive inches past the post with the keeper again a spectator.
|Selkirk and Ward force first half saves from Gala stopper (click to enlarge)|
The visiting goal was leading somewhat of a charmed life as the keeper made another fantastic save from Ward who rose above everyone to crash a header from a Broadfoot corner towards the top corner, the stopper throwing up a hand to tip over the bar. Broadfoot and Ward linked again just before half time as Ward met another corner in the visitor's box, this time heading narrowly over.
The only real moment of danger in the first half for Colts was a Gala breakaway that led to Duncan finding himself 2v1 against the Gala attack. The fullback though did brilliantly to delay the attacker while covering the pass, allowing his teammates to get back and avert the danger.
So the sides went in 0-0 at half time but the Broadwood men should really have been in front, Gala not managing to muster a single shot on target in the first 45.
Into the second half and the Colts lifted their tempo, for 20 minutes playing some delightful one and two touch football that really ought to have provided more than a single goal. The goal they did get will surely have left the Gala coaching staff scratching their heads given their charges had received two previous warnings which had clearly gone unheeded, Broadfoot driving a wonderful corner in from the left to Ward who rose again above everyone to power his header beyond into the net for 1-0.
|Ward opens the scoring with a header from a Broadfoot corner (click to enlarge)|
Broadfoot, O'Neill and Selkirk had further efforts on goal before Munn found himself on the end of a fine flowing move from the right, firing the bouncing cross first time over the bar from 12 yards. It was a difficult ball to take for the impressive midfielder, who along with his teammates felt they should have had another opportunity from 12 yards moments later as the official decided “no” on what appeared to be a stonewall penalty. As the ball was crossed from the Colts right the Gala right back, with Broadfoot closing in, stooped to his left to use his arm to push the ball out for a corner. As has been Colts luck with penalties of late, not given.
And they nearly paid the price as a short Gala corner saw a fine delivery into the box headed onto the foot of the post before being pawed away to safety by Doohan in the Colts goal.
Barclay was replaced by Black on 70 minutes with Broadfoot moving back into midfield where he was still a threat, collecting a one-two with Selkirk and curling just wide.
Black, playing from the right, linked well with Duncan and Ballantyne before delivering into the six yard area where Duncan was arriving searching for a tap in, the Gala defender heading out for a corner. Moments later O'Neill showed great feet to skip by two challenges inside the area and with his shot blocked keep the ball to find Kirwan who played in Black who shot over.
In the 80th minute Gala finally managed to get their first (and only) effort on target of the afternoon and didn't they make it count. Driving in from the Colts left the forward tee'd up his strike partner who from 18 yards fired powerfully into Doohan's bottom left, the keeper no chance.
Credit to Colts though they picked themselves up and kept the pressure on their visitors as the final 10 minutes saw the match emulate the reverse fixture and become somewhat of an end to end basketball type encounter. Having dropped points to injury time goals against Edinburgh City and East Kilbride already this season at Broadwood they seemed intent that this time, it would be them with a stoppage time winner. It came from the impressive Kirwan.
All afternoon the fullback had caused Gala problems with his pace, power and dribbling and when Black nicked the ball from the Gala centre back it was Kirwan again offering on the outside. Black played him in, Kirwan driving into the box and slotting calmly to the keepers left for 2-1 Colts.
|Kirwan slots in an injury time winner (click to enlarge)|
The final whistle went right on the restart, the Colts making it 9 unbeaten in all competitions and deservedly 4 wins in a row going into next weekend and the massive Scottish cup fixture at Forthbank. It was a fine performance from the home side, certainly more like themselves than the previous game with the only slight concern the number of missed opportunities. It lifts the Broadwood men to fifth in the table and sets them up nicely for Stirling Albion where they will hope to give a good account of themselves against higher league opposition.