Dodds red card leaves Vale feeling blue

Cowdenbeath 8

Vale of Leithen 1

WILLIAM HILL SCOTTISH CUP THIRD ROUND

KENNY PATERSON reports from Central Park

THE one plus point for Vale of Leithen’s squad from Saturday’s mauling was they avoided the club’s heaviest ever Scottish Cup defeat – the 1974/75 team which lost 12-0 to Montrose have kept that unwanted record.

The Victoria Park men were still well and truly thumped, but the 8-1 scoreline masks the drama which this tie witnessed in its opening stages.

Vale’s fans were dreaming of a cup upset when Scott Moffat opened the scoring after just 66 seconds.

But it was co-manager Kerr Dodds’ sending off for a heavy challenge on Jamie Stevenson in the 10th minute which left the Borders club’s chances of hanging on to a famous result as likely as the Maasai tribe publishing a detailed guide to the new iPad.

Afterwards, fellow co-boss Fraser Ogilvie could not help but think back to that pivotal moment.

He said: “Kerr is adamant it was not a sending-off and I trust him. We will have to look at it and think ‘What if?’

“We played well for the first 15 or 20 minutes, but we allowed them more time on the ball after that and when you do that with a First Division side you get punished.

“No-one expected us to come here and win. I told the players in the dressing room they should be proud of themselves.

“We did have a chance at 1-0 up, but we didn’t get the chance to build on that because of the sending-off.

“We were not able to show our ability, but we did show plenty of effort.”

Ogilvie stuck to his promise to attack Cowdenbeath – who were six games without a win going into the cup game at Central Park – and played both Moffat and Danny Noon up front, although he surprisingly left talented winger Martin Cairney on the bench.

And it appeared the bold tactics had worked within two minutes of kick-off, when a long ball was missed by ’Beath centre half John Armstrong and Moffat scuffed a shot beyond goalkeeper Craig Wight.

Vale passed the ball with confidence in those early minutes and the shocked Blue Brazil looked as uncomfortable as a pasty-skinned ginger Scotsman on Copacabana Beach.

However, then came the red card. He may have got away with it in the East of Scotland League, but Dodds’ tackle on Stevenson was reckless, and after a short delay, international cricketer-turned-referee George Salmond delivered a bouncer to Vale’s hopes.

And for the next 80 minutes, it was constant Cowdenbeath pressure.

At first, it appeared Vale stopper James Hudson may produce a superhuman performance to deny Cowdenbeath himself, making brilliant stops to keep out former Barcelona B midfielder Albert Saperas, Marc McKenzie and Lewis Coult.

But the home side finally made the breakthrough on 25 minutes as Greg Stewart scored with a fine left-footed shot from 20 yards.

Cowdenbeath went ahead six minutes later as the same player converted with a close-range volley and the tie was all but over when Stewart, who had not scored all season before this match, completed his first-half hat-trick on 41 minutes.

Cowdenbeath changed their tops at half time from blue to yellow after an apparent colour clash, but it made no difference to the flow of the match.

Indeed, the homesters became more prolific, notching three goals in the first seven minutes of the second half through Coult’s double – which included an audacious back heel – and a McKenzie strike.

Mark Ramsay and former Real Mallorca striker Stevenson completed the scoring and a miserable afternoon for Vale’s depleted troops.

Vale of Leithen: J. Hudson, C. Gordon, J. Draper (J. Paterson 69), R. McKenzie, J. Blaikie, S. Devlin, W. Sproule, K. Dodds, S. Moffat (M. Smith 78), D. Noon (M. Cairney 69), C. Inglis.