Vale of Leithen 1
EoS QUALIFYING LEAGUES
DAVE RYCE reports from Ainslie Park
SOMETIMES it’s a thin line we walk.
At the 90 minute mark of this game, Vale were 1-0 up and on course to qualify for the East of Scotland League Cup, but by the time the final whistle sounded six minutes later, Spartans had grabbed two injury-time goals to shoot to the top of the section and leave Vale down and out.
The fact that the Innerleithen men’s downfall came courtesy of goals scored by two Borderers was a cruel irony that couldn’t be escaped, either.
The first half saw Vale edge in front after 31 minutes when Wayne Sproule was upended in the area by Donal Henretty. Sproule picked himself up to take the spot kick and sent a low strike into the net.
Otherwise, the game was a scrappy affair, littered with fouls, stoppages and off-target shooting from both sides. It started to become pretty hard going for Vale as a few players began to struggle with injury.
Ryan McKenzie, Kerr Dodds and Jack Blaikie all kept physio Liam McGinlay busy, but with Jamie Paterson and Fraser Ogilvie the only subs and not fully fit themselves, they were forced to struggle on until it became clear that even a half-fit Paterson was preferable to a McKenzie barely able to run.
In contrast, Spartans had brought on ex-Vale winger Andy Martin at half-time and also introduced former Gala Fairydean striker Chris Anderson, and it was the two substitutes that ultimately won the game for Spartans.
As the game entered injury time, a ball launched forward by Ali MacKinnon rattled around the area before breaking for Martin to stab it home from around 12 yards out.
Vale weren’t content with a draw, however, and Spartans keeper Chris Flockhart had to look sharp as he got down to a Jamie Paterson effort.
In the fourth minute of added time, Vale were awarded a free kick on the edge of the Spartans’ area and flooded players forward in a last, desperate push for a winner. But the ball was cleared by Spartans and carried forward by Jack Beesley, who slipped it forward for Anderson to run on to and find the net with a good finish.
Vale of Leithen: S. Inglis, S. Sproule, J. Draper, R. McKenzie (J. Paterson), J. Blaikie, K. Paterson, W. Sproule, K. Dodds, S. Moffat, D. Noon, C. Inglis.