The 3G carpet at Dunbar is an excellent surface to play on, but the match kicked off in cool, damp, dreich conditions with a steady drizzle tormenting the supporters.
Dunbar were missing Knox who was on the piste for a week, while top scorer from last season Dixon looks like missing a few weeks with Osgood-Schlatter disease which has troubled him for much of the campaign. The home team number 1 Purves picked up the Captains armband for the first time this season in recognition of continued excellent performances.
Dunbar were strong from the start and had obviously been missing their football. They created their first chance of the match with only a few minutes played Cooper weaving some magic down the left before sliding Renton in. The keeper was out quick to thwart the young striker.
Kielty returned to the Dunbar midfield and he was keen to take the game by the neck very early. He was showing lots of good touches and he was joined by Pickles who shows such versatility and has played in a number of positions for Dunbar. The key ball players Foggo and Twist made up the rest of the midfield as Dunbar fielded an offensive looking team.
5 minutes played and Dunbar did open the scoring. Pickles delivered an exquisite and superbly timed through ball, setting Renton on his way. Renton was on it in a flash and fired home the opener.
Dunbar were controlling possession but slightly wasteful with it. They were patient and full backs Hood and Ford were again showing great support options while Hall and Smillie formed a new centre half pairing. Both are very comfortable with the ball at their feet and looked secure with any balls heading their way.
Dunbar’s next opportunity came from a dead ball with Kielty firing in a free kick from 25 yards out that the keeper comfortably dealt with. Foggo and Cooper were winning the battle against their full backs and Dunbar won a series of corners but they didn’t look like creating clear-cut chances. Such is football that with 5 minutes to go to half time, Gala raced up the field for their first attack of the match. With the Dunbar midfield stranded up-field, the ball bounced around the Dunbar box before the Gala striker poked home beyond a grounded keeper Purves.
But, before the referee thought about blowing for half time, Twist won the ball in midfield with Renton sitting right on the shoulder of the last man, ready for that through ball. Kielty delivered and so did Renton as Dunbar turned around 2 goals to 1 up.
Half Time: Dunbar United Colts 2-1 Gala Fairydean Rovers Colts
Dunbar were forced into a re-shuffle at the break with Cooper complaining of a hamstring niggle while Sutherland came on to his favoured left back position, with Hood pushing further forward.
Such was Sutherlands impact in the game that Dunbar would score a further 3 goals after the break, with all of them coming from the left of the pitch. Mclean was also on after looking sharp in training during the week.
Dunbar were again patient in possession, and unlucky not to stretch their lead early in the half. Sutherland travelled down the left and put Renton down the wing. Renton lost his marker and his ball in saw Hood and Twist get in each other’s way and the chance was wasted.
Sutherland picked up the ball minutes later and as the gap opened up in front of him, memories of his strike against Earlston were clearly running through his mind. He struck a really clean shot from full-on 30 yards that unluckily cannoned back off the crossbar. Instead, he would be satisfied with being a part of the next goal when he passed into Mclean. He linked with Hood who slotted Renton down the line again – he played a great ball into the middle with Mclean continuing his run and guiding the ball home with his left foot with such calmness and assurance.
Balmforth-Tait joined the party and Dunbar made a few positional changes with Pickles reverting to sweeper and Hall asked to sit in front of his back 4. This move looked good for Dunbar as they looked to close the game out with some good possession play.
Number 4 was on its way and again it stemmed from the left. Sutherland turned his man with some great footwork, slid in a great pass down the line for Renton to run on to. Renton made his way into the box before unselfishly laying the ball into the path of Twist who passed the ball into the net for his 4th of the campaign.
Number five arrived late in the game with the ball breaking at the edge of the box. Renton hit the ball first time and he could not have hit it cleaner – his 20 yarder soaring into the top corner of the net to top off a great day for the pacy marksman. A hat-trick for Renton and his 41st of the campaign while credit goes to the braw lads of Gala for sticking with it on a day when they travelled with the bare minimum of 11 players on a big pitch.
Full Time: Dunbar United Colts 5-1 Gala Fairydean Rovers Colts
It is a return to cup action for the Seasiders when they host Hutchison Vale Colts in the David Innes Cup next weekend. This is the first meeting of the two teams and the winner earns a place in the semi-final of this competition.