COLTS slim title hopes were dealt a damaging blow when they were narrowly beaten by Gala Fairydean at Broadwood on Saturday.
Sean Brown opened the scoring for the Cumbernauld men and they should have added to their tally, but a second half brace from Gala striker Ruari Paton ensured the points went back to the Borders.
It was a tough one to take for the Colts management duo of James Orr and Craig McKinlay having watched their men dominate most of the first half only to squander numerous chances to take control of the game.
Both teams started the game brightly with good scoring opportunities at both ends.
Firstly, Colts should have been ahead in the opening few minutes when a long clearance was cleverly dummied by Fraser Team and the ball ran into the path of Brown who was clean through on goal, but the striker shot straight at Patrick Martin in the Gala goal.
And then at the other end Gala a skipper Darren Smith drove forward from midfield in 7 minutes and unleashed a powerful long-range effort which was well saved by Colts keeper Jordan Marshall.
The hosts had another near miss in 10 minutes when the ball fell kindly for Stephen O'Neill on the edge of the box but the winger, who was making his 100th appearance for the club, sent his volley narrowly over the bar.
However, Colts edged in front in 17 minutes when a great move between Ritchie Kirwan and Craig Holmes resulted in Brown being given a chance to make amends and the youngster showed great composure to slide the ball past Martin into the far corner.
But the visitors responded well and had a good period of pressure and intensity in the middle part of the first half, but they were unable to turn their possession into any clear goal scoring opportunities.
Meanwhile Colts at the other end were always dangerous on the counter attack and should have added to their first half tally with chances being wasted by Brown, Team and O’Neill when they all should have done better.
The visitors started the second period with more intent knowing full well they’d been given a lifeline by Colts not capitalising on their first half chances.
And in 52 minutes the visitors made Colts pay when a long hopeful ball was played in the direction of Gala striker Paton, Colts keeper Pettigrew was favourite to win the ball but he mis-kicked his clearance and the ball broke kindly for Paton who rolled the ball into the empty net.
And matters went from bad to worse for Colts in 67 minutes when the visitors turned the game on its head, their skipper Smith won a corner and took the kick himself playing the ball to the back post which should have been dealt with by the Colts rearguard. But the ball broke kindly again for the alert Paton and the striker made no mistake with a diving header low past Pettigrew.
The Colts management duo made changes towards the end introducing Gavin Lachlan, Craig Murry and Craig Henderson in hope to take something from the game, but it wasn’t to be their day and Gala held on for victory.
Gala Fairydean Rovers ; Martin, Stevenson, Main, Donaldson, Miller, Smith, Cunningham, McKirdy, Paton, O’Reilly, Baxter. Subs; Amos, Mitchell, Patterson, Ainslie, Temple, Watson, Grant.