Vale of Leithen 2
EoS QUALIFYING LEAGUE SECTION B
DAVE RYCE reports from Victoria Park
Forget the popular image of the first game of the season kicking off in brilliant sunshine in front of a short-sleeved crowd.
This was a game conducted in a torrential downpour, but what it lacked in agreeable weather conditions, it more than made up for in excitement.
Unhappily though, the rain wasn’t the only thing pouring eight minutes into the game as a sickening clash of heads between Vale’s Chris Beaton and Spartans’ Ali MacKinnon resulted in the end of the game for Beaton as he was escorted from the field with blood pouring from a scalp wound.
Shortly afterwards, Spartans were handed a chance to go in front as they were awarded a penalty when Vale’s Ricky Miller was adjudged to have brought down Donal Henretty, but Chris Anderson’s spot kick was superbly blocked by Vale keeper Chris Hill.
But the city outfit did take the lead in the 28th minute when Anderson was sent dashing down the left and centred for Jack Beesley to fire home an unstoppable shot from the edge of the area. The capital side edged further ahead in the 36th minute with an even better strike from Scott Fusco, the defender hitting a blistering 20-yard free kick round the wall and high into the net.
Not many teams manage to claw back a two-goal deficit against Spartans, but Vale came storming back in the second half to draw level. Although both strikes may have been seen as lucky breaks, there was no doubt the home side deserved them.
On 71 minutes, substitute Scott Devlin was tripped in the area by Fusco and Devlin stepped up to blast home the penalty. Five minutes later, David Anderson whipped over a cross from the right flank which was turned into his own net by MacKinnon.
Vale were the only team in it now and came agonisingly close to winning the game a few minutes from time as an astonishing save by Chris Flockhart was required to keep out a lob by Devlin, the Spartans keeper stretching to tip the ball over the bar.
Vale of Leithen: C. Hill, S. Sproule, R. McKenzie, R. Miller, P. Lee, P. Greenhill, D. Anderson, J. Paterson, S. Moffat, C. Beaton (S. Devlin), A. Martin.