It was an opportunity for Royal Albert to gain revenge for a big defeat at the hands of Gala Fairydean Rovers in November, as well as booking a spot into the second round of the King Cup.
This, however, did not materialise, as the Royalists came nowhere near to achieving their aim due to a very disappointing show
The Albert’s first-half display in particular left a lot to be desired, and apart from scoring a goal in a rare attack, they were never in the game.
Reflecting on his side’s defeat, Albert manager Graeme Chadsaid: “In the first half we gave Gala far too much respect and were very poor. We couldn’t keep the ball when we had it and you don’t do that against good sides as they punish you, and this happened.
“We made a few changes at half-time to the formation and the personnel and it worked. We got back into the game, but Gala scored a wonder goal and this completely deflated us. I can’t fault the players for effort and desire but we have to be more clinical”.
Gala sailed into the lead in the fifth minute when Des Sutherland took advantage of some slack marking to slot away a Dean McColm corner-kick at the far post.
Within minutes, Sutherland came near to getting a second in heading a Callum Jardine cross over the bar.
In Gala’s next raid, Jardine hit a shot against the post from a Sutherland cut-back.
The Albert were struggling to string a pass together, and in the 34th minute Gala went further ahead.
Finding space down the right, Michael Fairburn swung over a cross and Sutherland launched himself forward to find the net with a diving header.
Within four minutes Royalists reduced the leeway.
Nick Cairns fired in a shot that appeared destined for the net. Gala keeper John Dodds, who had more or less been a spectator, pulled off his first save of the match in diving to his left to tip the ball away.
This brought about a goalmouth scramble during which Kevin Strathdee shot home. Royalists were back in the hunt but not for long, and with half-time looming, Sutherland completed his hat-trick in slotting away a cross from Andrew Hardie.
The Albert began to show more drive and enterprise after the break.
However, the game had fallen into a lull and there were few goalmouth incidents until Gala extended their lead in the 69th minute.
David Bonnar sprayed a pass into the path of Sutherland who unleashed a raging shot into the roof of the net.
In the 77th minute, Hawick teenager and former Hawick Waverley man, Dean McColm capped off a good display in rubbing further salt in Royalists wounds when blasting in a fifth for Gala.
Minutes from time, Gala’s Craig McBride was red carded following a clash with Albert’s Graeme Young, who was yellow carded.