Hall grabs winner as Vale sigh relief

Vale of Leithen 2

Kelso United 1


DAVE RYCE reports from Victoria Park

Eleven days previously, Vale of Leithen had overrun Kelso United 6-0 in an East of Scotland Qualifying League Cup tie, but this particular meeting could hardly have been more different.

Vale initially threatened to run up a similar score in a first half which they completely dominated, but couldn’t break the deadlock.

In contrast to the dull, rainy start to the day, the sun came out for the second half, but the gloom didn’t lift for the Tweedsiders four minutes into the second period when Chris Black was guilty of a shove on John Ferguson inside the area and Scott Devlin stepped up to send David Simmonds the wrong way from the spot.

Usually it’s the scoring side that gets the boost from a goal, but Vale seemed to lose momentum as United came storming back into the match, and although their equaliser on the hour mark carried a bit of good fortune, there was no argument that it wasn’t a deserved one.

A low ball into the box from the right by Des Burnett looked as if it would be easily dealt with by Grant McNicoll, but the ball hit off the defender’s knee and flew into the net.

However, in the 72nd minute, Jordan Hall scored what proved to be the winning goal, taking the ball on a fantastic solo run, cutting in from the right and blasting the ball beyond Simmonds and into the far corner of the net.

That wasn’t the end of the action by any means, as Kelso came agonisingly close to another equaliser six minutes from time – Stuart Harker sending a long ball forward which Burnett got to just ahead of keeper Mark Wilson, but his lob bounced in front of goal and over.

Referee Gianluca Marini hadn’t exactly endeared himself to either side, with some soft bookings and dodgy offside calls, but he ended the game positively – in the home side’s eyes – enraging Kelso by awarding another penalty in the final minute.

Vale’s David Anderson robbed John McCutcheon of possession and went to round keeper Simmonds, who pulled him down.

A straight red for Simmonds meant that Burnett took over in goal and he produced a fine save to stop Devlin’s second effort from the spot.

There was further misery for Kelso in injury time as they were reduced to nine men when McCutcheon, who had been puzzlingly cautioned for a challenge on Hall in the first half, received a second booking for kicking the ball away.

Vale of Leithen: M. Wilson, S. Sproule, R. McKenzie, R. Miller, G. McNicoll, J. Paterson, D. Anderson, S. Devlin, J. Ferguson (S. Moffat 71), S. Radzynski (A. Martin 79), J. Hall.

Kelso United: D. Simmonds, J. McCutcheon, S. Angus (C. Tait 41), S. Tait (J. Milner 86), S. Harker, D. McNulty, J. Ferguson (J. Hogarth 82), M. Lockhart, D. Burnett, J. Swailes, C. Black.