Match Preview: Gala FR – Competition for places set to boost Vale for rest of season

Vale’s squad has been boosted by three additions ahead of the derby against Gala Fairydean Rovers, and Chris Anderson is hoping increased competition for places can help them kick on in 2017.

The signings of midfielder Andy Martin, defender Craig McBride and a loan deal for Hibs youngster Ali Smith have been completed and all three go into the squad for Saturday’s match, after the former two featured last weekend.

A thin squad has been tested to the limit over the last few months with the subs bench looking very thin in some matches, forcing the manager to move to strengthen his hand. And he is hopeful that bulking his squad with the addition of quality will be the catalyst for a return to form after a poor run.

He said: “It’s a new year and we are certainly looking ahead to what we can achieve in 2017. For the first time in a long while we have a squad available to choose from and we also welcome some new signings into our match day squad.

“Competition for places is important for any team and now we have strengthened we can look forward to some positive results. The players and coaching staff are embracing the challenge of the Lowland League and what better way to start than a Border derby against our biggest rivals Gala.”

The 5-1 victory over Hawick Royal Albert on Hogmanay has elevated Gala ahead of Vale for the first time this season, and they are now the highest positioned Borders team in 11th.

Results on the whole have been up and down with highlights including the derby wins over Hawick and Vale, a 3-2 victory over Spartans and a 3-1 Scottish Cup triumph over the Highland League’s Fraserburgh, earning a plum tie against Elgin City.

However, there was the ignominy of a 10-1 thrashing by East Stirlingshire and a 7-1 reverse against Selkirk, a deficit which Vale can of course now empathise with.