Vale of Leithen 1
Newtongrange Star 2
DAVE RYCE reports from Victoria Park
Given that pre-season games are more about players getting up to match fitness than results, they rarely tend to be classics, and such was the case on Saturday in Innerleithen.
A decent crowd found themselves basking in warm sunshine one minute and dashing for the cover of the enclosure the next as rain showers interrupted any potential tanning process, but sadly there was little to raise their pulses otherwise.
Injuries and unavailability meant Vale had only 12 players to choose from.
Jamie Paterson lasted only three minutes before having to come off, and when Jerry Draper was forced to retire from the action after half-an-hour, manager Fraser Ogilvie unexpectedly donned his boots to play an hour in midfield.
No sooner was Ogilvie on the pitch than the East Region Juniors took the lead, with as fine a goal as you’re likely to see all season.
Collecting the ball just inside the Vale half, Paul Tansey, a summer signing from Musselburgh Athletic, raced up the left flank before cutting inside and firing a blistering strike into the far corner of the net from just inside the area.
It was shots that were raining in now as the Midlothian side put Vale very much on the back foot. But just before half-time, Vale grabbed an equaliser against the run of play.
Wayne Sproule led a rare foray through the Star defence and his cut-back from the byeline was turned into his own net by defender Scott Gibson.
Things were much more even after the break as a rash of substitutions seemed to interrupt the visitors’ rhythm. Vale had an excellent chance to take the lead as Chris Inglis embarked on a superb solo run through the opposition defence, before laying the ball off to Scott Moffat, but last season’s top scorer at Vale scuffed his shot disappointingly wide of the post.
With 11 minutes remaining, Newtongrange scored what proved to be the winner as substitute Alistair Forster met a Tansey cross and gave Vale keeper Sinclair Inglis no chance with a close-range volley.
Vale of Leithen: S. Inglis; J. Paterson, R. McKenzie, C. Gordon, J. Blaikie, C. Gray, M. Cairney, C. Inglis, W. Sproule, S. Moffat, J. Draper. Subs: E. Dick, F. Ogilvie.