Vale of Leithen 1
Threave Rovers 2
SOUTH REGION CHALLENGE CUP
FIRST ALL-IN ROUND
DAVE RYCE reports from Victoria Park
SINCE their return to the South of Scotland League eight years ago, Threave Rovers have returned to the venues of their former East of Scotland League rivals to great effect on numerous occasions.
So it wasn’t such a great shock that the Castle Douglas men departed from Innerleithen with a place in the semi-finals of the South Region Challenge Cup.
Whatever weaknesses the visitors may possess in certain areas, up front isn’t one of them and even though they trailed to a goal by Steve Radzynski with 10 minutes of the match remaining, super striker Andrew Donnelly stepped up to net a quick-fire double to send Rovers through.
Threave came at Vale from the first whistle – by the time the clock had ticked round to 30 seconds, Donnelly had seen a shot deflected off the post and a header from the resulting corner sail narrowly over the bar.
Vale rallied and had the ball in the net twice, only to see the strikes disallowed, the first for a mystery infringement on goalkeeper Vinnie Parker by Radzynski. Shortly afterward, the flag was raised against Andy Martin as he crossed for Radzynski to knock home, although the winger appeared to have been comfortably onside when the ball was played.
It all got a bit bizarre as Threave were awarded a penalty, but after consulting with his assistant, referee Gianluca Marini amended the decision to a free kick just outside the box.
There was another scare as Threave defender Liam Patterson glanced a header from a free kick on target, but fortunately Martin was there to clear off the line.
Given the number of chances, it was something of a surprise that the scoreline was blank at the interval, but Vale eventually made the breakthrough in the 61st minute. Martin burst forward to send a cross towards the back post and Radzynski ghosted in to nod home.
It was a lead that Vale held on to until the 80th minute, when a Sam Warren corner somehow found its way across a crowded goalmouth to fall kindly for Donnelly, who dispatched the ball home.
Three minutes later, Rovers were ahead. Again the goal originated from a corner, the ball being cleared back to Warren, whose cross was clawed away by Vale keeper Chris Hill only as far as Donnelly, who wasted no time in shooting high into the net.
Vale of Leithen: C. Hill, J. Paterson, J. Lauder, S. Robertson, P. Lee, P. Greenhill, A. Martin, S. Devlin (J. Binnie 88), S. Moffat, S. Radzynski, J. Hall (C. Beaton 88).