Vale of Leithen5
A clinical and inspired hat-trick from Jason Stevens provided the foundations of Vale’s emphatic South Qualifying Cup second round win over their East of Scotland opponents.
But it took them some time to realise that they are really meant to be a class above – it took them 37 minutes to open the scoring and that was followed by an Eyemouth strike that balanced the scores until the break.
But the Innerleithen men’s confidence was in abundance after the break, when there was little doubt which team would be progressing.
Vale boss Mark Lamb said: “We turned up the pace a bit in the second half and it was like night and day.
“To be fair, Eyemouth came here and fought hard.
“We only had one man on the bench – Jimmy Rae – as we have players suspended, injured and on holiday. So for me, if I was offered that scoreline at the start of the game I’d have taken it.”
Stevens could really have had six or seven goals, had half of his chances in the first half gone in, the easiest of which came in the 16th minute as he hit the underside of the bar from five yards when through on an open goal.
Eyemouth were making inroads towards the home goal, but on several occasions were stopped by a superb goal-saving tackle from Jack Blaikie.
But Vale got the opener as Kris Mitchell’s blocked shot fell to the feet of Stevens, who fired home, aided by a deflection.
Two minutes later, Eyemouth made the perfect reply, Keith Buckley finishing off after the ball bounced about in the box.
It was a more composed Vale who came out for the second half, and Ryan Sclater, possibly the shortest man on the park, rose above everyone to nod his team into the lead from a Ewan Sanderson cross.
Kriss Iyere almost equalised for the Fishermen, but Mark Wilson was alert to his curling free kick.
Then, in the 71st minute, came the goal of the game. Stevens received the ball 30 yards out, and with a shimmy, turned towards goal and thumped home a cracker.
It didn’t take long for the hat-trick opportunity to come around, as Ross Brady released Stevens for one of his easiest tap-in scores.
And a missed opportunity from an acute angle in the 82nd minute meant he didn’t get four.
But the fifth goal came from Mitchell, who had put in a good shift, and got his reward with a goal two minutes from time.