Three and not so easy for Innerleithen men in the battle of the Vales

Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale 3

Vale of Leithen 3

EoS PREMIER DIVISION

DAVE RYCE reports from Saughton Enclosure

‘Three is the Magic Number,’ they sang on Schoolhouse Rock! and, quite frankly, who are we to argue?

Vale’s third Premier Division fixture saw them score three goals for the third time, but also concede three for, er, the second time.

Thought I was onto something there.

Despite having a three-goal first half lead, the Innerleithen side were denied all three points following a controversial penalty in the fifth minute of injury time, but in truth, it was something of a miracle that they had even got themselves into the position to lose it so late.

The Vale team lining up for the start resembled soldiers returning from battle as Jack Blaikie, Chris Gordon and Martin Cairney all carried injuries, while Kerr Dodds and Chris Gray were more ready for a physiotherapist’s bench than a substitute’s one.

They were all doing better than Jerry Draper though, who broke down during the warm-up and took no part.

Incredibly, the walking wounded edged ahead in the 14th minute. A Darren Thomson corner was cleared to Chris Inglis, who hit a perfectly-judged volley over the crowd of players and keeper Kevin Swain.

Vale doubled their advantage in the 42nd minute. A solo run by Kayne Paterson took him through the Lothian defence and into the area before he unselfishly cut the ball across to leave Danny Noon with the simplest of tap-ins.

As the clock ticked round to 45 minutes, Vale put themselves three up, as Cairney went on a solo run of his own before rifling a shot into the net.

It was all looking good for Vale, but Lothian pulled a goal back within 30 seconds of the restart as Lloyd Dignan sent a precise chip over the keeper’s head and inside the post.

On the hour mark, a free kick caused some consternation in the Vale box and with no visiting defender putting a name on the ball, it ran across for defender Matt Costello to poke home.

Vale seemed to have done enough to hold off Lothian, but right at the death Callum Connolly collided with Chris Inglis in the area and referee Billy Cooper immediately pointed to the spot.

It was a harsh decision as it appeared an accidental clash, but Mr Cooper was in no doubt and Ross Elliot stepped forward to send the spot kick flying into the net.

Vale of Leithen: S. Inglis, W. Sproule, D. Thomson (K. Dodds 65; C. Gray 85), R. McKenzie, J. Blaikie, C. Inglis, M. Smith, C. Gordon, D. Noon, K. Paterson, M. Cairney (S. Moffat 67).