Taking advantage

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Vale of Leithen2

There can’t be a better time to play a team than when they’re mere hours away from their biggest game of the season – and the home side’s minds were visibly on Tuesday’s Scottish Cup replay at Berwick.

That said, you can’t take anything away from the Innerleithen outfit as they thoroughly deserved their place in the quarter-finals of the South Region Cup.

The damage was done before the game was 10 minutes old. In the second minute of play, Jason Stevens made a break down the right and squared to the arriving Kenny O’Brien, who found the net.

Seven minutes later, Vale doubled their lead, a neat exchange of passes taking them through the Spartans back line, with Stevens gathering the ball and hitting his shot off the underside of the bar and over the line.

Things shortly went from bad to worse for the home side as Mike Bruce picked up two bookings in the space of six minutes for needlessly-robust challenges on Elliot and Stevens.

And early in the second half they lost goalkeeper Kevin Swain as he sustained a knock that forced him off.

Spartans almost set the game up for an interesting finale as David Stewart hit a free kick off the crossbar, but that was as close as they came.