Spartans 4 Vale of Leithen 1
Kenny Paterson reports from Ainslie Park
The cliché is bad luck comes in twos – and at full time Vale manager Mickey Lawson was left wondering if he had run over a black cat while standing under a ladder.
The loss of key midfield duo Jason Stevens and Ryan Sclater to injury – as well as two decisions he felt were wrong which led to two goals – meant the Victoria Park men left Ainslie Park battered, bruised and pointless.
But the fact they gave Spartans an almighty fright after former Ainslie Park favourite Keith McLeod had given Vale a lead they had held onto until well into the second half was a consolation for the former Spartans manager.
Lawson said: “We were not helped by the injuries or the referee.
“For the second goal, Keith McLeod had a foul given against him when he was simply stronger than his opponent, while Ainslie Hunter was shoved before the third goal.
“They are a good side but we never deserved to lose 4-1.”
Keith McLeod was always going to score on his return to Ainslie Park – after all, the 37-year-old did bag 286 goals for Spartans over 12 seasons.
His volley on 26 minutes gave Vale a surprise lead and the visitors repelled Spartans for the remainder of the half thanks to some brave defending.
But the loss of Stevens at half time after a head knock had an impact of Vale’s second half efforts and after holding the hosts out until the 68th minute, Jamie Dishington finally squeezed a low shot into the net for the equaliser.
Sclater then suffered a leg injury but his replacement Kris Mitchell struck the bar with a header.
The miss proved pivotal, as Spartans powered home with three goals in the last ten minutes. Ally Mackinnon headed in David Greenhill’s cross before Aaron Murrell bamboozled Vale’s tiring defence for the third, his 18th goal in just 12 games.
And substitute Keith Murray added a fourth with a deft lob in the third minute of injury time.
Vale of Leithen: A. McQueen, B. Rixon, R. Brady (S. Elliot 83), S. Lynch, J. Elliot, D. McLeod, J. Stevens (A. Flanagan 45), L. McIntosh, R. Sclater (K. Mitchell 73), K. McLeod, A. Hunter.