VALE OF LEITHEN2
When he arrived at Victoria Park Mike Lawson said that his long-term goal was for Vale of Leithen to be the top side in the Borders.
Just one month later, the veteran manager may need to reassess his aims after a gritty win against Edinburgh University pulled Vale level with Selkirk and Gala Fairydean Rovers on 10 points.
While there was nothing pretty about their performance, there was plenty heart as well as a goal for ex-Spartans striker Keith McLeod, who played as a trialist but is expected to sign for the club.
McLeod’s experience and guile in front of goal will be needed again this weekend away to reigning Lowland League champions Edinburgh City.
Lawson said: “Of course it is going to be a hard game but we will have Liam McIntosh and Ross Brady back which will help us.
“Edinburgh University is one of the best sides I have seen this season and forced us to change our system after just 20 minutes.
“They missed a penalty early on and you think at that point, ‘it might just be our day’. We had to defend for our lives but it was a great win.”
The sixth minute spot kick by Jan Maelger – after Steven Lynch had fouled Joe Aitken – was hit straight at Vale keeper Andy McQueen and allowed Lynch to nod his team in front at the other end, thanks to a 14th minute corner by Ryan Sclater.
For the remainder of the half, the Students pulled their hosts across the pitch with their movement and passing, forcing Lawson to put strikers McLeod and Robbie Ross onto the flanks to try and hold back Edinburgh’s advancing full backs. Yet, his defence was exposed when Aitken was played clean through just after half time, only for McQueen to produce an excellent save.
With the game in the balance, up stepped 37-year-old McLeod to demonstrate why he scored almost 300 goals for Spartans.
After striking the bar with a vicious 20 yard volley, McLeod sealed the victory in the 76th minute with a delicate chip over University keeper Asher Tufail.
Vale of Leithen: A. McQueen, R Sclater, S. Elliot, S. Lynch, J. Elliot, D. McLeod, A. Hunter, B. Rixon, R. Ross (J. Guy 85), K. McLeod, S. Stevens (D. Gallacher 58).