Vale nip in late to snatch derby from Fairies’ hands

Galashiels, UK. - 07 Dec 13 : 'Scottish Football Lowland League, Gala Fairydean Rovers v Vale of Leithen at the 3G Arena, Netherdale, Galashiels.''FT Gala Fairydean Rovers 2 - Vale of Leithen 3'''(Photo by  Rob Gray / digitalpic / Freelance / � 2013)

Galashiels, UK. - 07 Dec 13 : 'Scottish Football Lowland League, Gala Fairydean Rovers v Vale of Leithen at the 3G Arena, Netherdale, Galashiels.''FT Gala Fairydean Rovers 2 - Vale of Leithen 3'''(Photo by Rob Gray / digitalpic / Freelance / � 2013)

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Vale of Leithen manager Chic McAleavy admitted three late goals saved his team’s Lowland League title challenge.

The Innerleithen side trailed 1-0 to hosts Gala Fairydean Rovers, but a trio of strikes in the closing stages mean Vale remain five points behind leaders Spartans.

McAleavy said: “We have a chance of winning the league until someone tells me we don’t.

“We told the players that we had to win today to remain in it. It is a big victory for us.

“We definitely deserved the win for our second-half showing.

“In the first half we sat off Gala and let them play.

“We found it hard playing on the AstroTurf as we don’t play on it every week, but to be fair to Gala, they played some nice football.

“But in the second half, I don’t think they had a shot on target, apart from their goal.”

Challenging for the league title is something second-bottom Gala can only dream of, and the gutted squad remained in the dressing room for 20 minutes after the defeat with coaches Bryan Templeton and Shane Greene.

When he finally emerged, Templeton insisted his young side deserved a point.

Templeton said: “It is a new and young team we have put together, and having played all the sides in the league it is now about learning from our mistakes.

“If you look at Craig McBride, he has come on so much since the start of the season, as has Dean McColm.

“These guys are young players and they are going to get better. If we can keep this squad together and add to it, then we will be ready for next season.”

In a first half of few chances, it was Gala who struck on 39 minutes as a McColm corner was fired high into the net by Sean Paliczka.

But the second half was constant Vale pressure, as John Dodds had to make a cracking stop to palm away Danny Rennie’s header.

In a rare Gala attack, Stuart Noble had claims for a penalty waved away after he appeared to be pulled to the floor by Vale’s Ryan McKenzie.

But it was little surprise to see Vale equalise on 75 minutes as Eddie Mearns was fouled by Jason Inglis, and Aird slotted home the spot kick.

With eight minutes to go, Keith Lough put the visitors ahead with a header from a Daniel McAleavy corner, and then substitute Taylor Aitchison added a third on 87 minutes.

In injury time, Stuart Noble grabbed a second goal for Gala, but it proved too late.

Gala Fairydean Rovers: J. Dodds, J. Inglis, C. McBride, A. Common (B. Maxwell 76), F. Forrest, C. Jardine (D. Sutherland 79), A. Nicol, D. McColm, S. Noble, S. Paliczka, K. Collins.

Vale of Leithen: G. O’Brien, D. Aird, D. McAleavy, J. Young, R. McKenzie, E. Mearns, K. Lough, S. McCulloch, R. Aitchison, C. Brigain (T. Aitchison 81), D. Rennie (J.R. Kerr 55).