Qualification was the star prize for Vale

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Vale of Leithen 2

Leith Athletic 1

EoS QUALIFYING LEAGUE

DAVE RYCE reports from Victoria Park

IT WAS a case of Winner Takes All for Vale on Saturday.

If you’re thinking of an ABBA song, that was ‘The Winner Takes It All’ and consider yourself disqualified from a place in my pub quiz team.

Nor were the Victoria Park side answering general knowledge questions posed by Jimmy Tarbuck for the chance to win £1,000 – it was simply that any sort of win in this match would land them the prize of a place in the East of Scotland League Cup.

It was duly achieved, but they had to work hard to get past a stuffy Leith Athletic side who had failed to win a single game in their Qualifying League section and were determined to make amends for it.

The game kicked off at a furious pace, with the first half largely notable for a lack of space in midfield as both teams kept tight on each other.

Consequently, there was little in the way of clear-cut chances, but a controversial decision by referee William Cooper riled the Vale contingent a quarter of an hour in, as Jamie Paterson was brought down in the area. The official elected to let play run as the ball had fallen to Jordan Hall in a good position, but his shot was deflected into the air by a defender and keeper Matthew Banks managed to claw the ball away.

Two minutes into the second half, though, Vale made the breakthrough.

It was a goal that carried some good fortune about it, as Jordan Hall met an Andy Martin cross on the half-volley and the shot glanced off Leith’s Dougie Thom to wrongfoot Banks and the ball sailed into the net.

On the hour-mark Vale doubled their lead, largely thanks to another deflection. Steve Radzynski fired a cross from the left to Martin at the back post and his drive clipped the heels of defender Lewis Cairns. Banks had already committed himself to the dive and could only look on from his position on the ground as Martin’s shot rolled over the line.

In injury time, the visitors pulled a goal back after Ricky Miller had upended William Bremner at the edge of the area and substitute Stephen Barrie curled a free kick round the wall and in.

But it was too little, too late from Leith and Vale march on to the League Cup as section winners.

Vale of Leithen: M. Wilson, C. Beaton, R. McKenzie (J. Lauder), R. Miller, P. Lee, P. Greenhill, A. Martin, J. Paterson, S. Moffat (J. Ferguson), S. Radzynski, J. Hall.