Vale of Leithen 1
SOUTH CHALLENGE CUP SEMI-FINAL
DAVE RYCE reports from Ainslie Park
VALE’S bid to reach the final of the South Region Challenge Cup ended on Saturday, losing to Spartans at Ainslie Park.
Although defeated, the Innerleithen men can at least be content that the trophy holders knew they’d been in a game, with Vale knocking the capital side out of their stride for the most part in a game played at a furious pace throughout.
Vale got off to a dream start in the first minute when they were awarded a penalty as Spartans defender Dean Hoskins felled Steven Radzynski in the area and Paul Doohan sent home keeper Chris Flockhart the wrong way from the spot to find the corner of the net.
But it was a lead that lasted just four minutes as Spartan Alex King collected the ball in midfield and went on a solo run that ended with him dispatching a shot from the edge of the area beyond the reach of Darren Walker.
The chances came thick and fast at both ends, with home striker Keith McLeod hammering a shot off the crossbar, and Flockhart having to look lively to clutch a Radzynski header.
Six minutes into the second half the home side went in front. Chris Townsley knocked a free kick down for McLeod to hit a rasping shot against the post, and the ball rebounded across the area for Ross Archibald to shoot home.
That was enough of a blow for Vale, but they were to receive a bigger one in the 65th minute when they were reduced to 10 men as Paul Greenhill went crashing into the back of Omar Kader with his studs up. You could have argued that in the context of other challenges during the game it merited a booking at most, but referee Colin Brown was in no doubt, instantly pulling out a straight red card for the bemused Vale midfielder.
To Vale’s credit, they never gave up chasing the game, with a timely interception needed from Townsley as Kerr Dodds was about to pull the trigger from a Radzynski knockdown.
Walker pulled off a fantastic save from Gavin Malin as Spartans looked to catch Vale on the break, but in the 74th minute Malin put the outcome beyond doubt as McLeod put him through on goal and he slotted the ball home.
Vale of Leithen: D. Walker, C. Beaton, J. Lauder, J. Hall, P. Lee, P. Greenhill, P. Doohan, K. Dodds, S. Radzynski, S. Moffat, G. Cole (G. Hare 80).