Vale of Leithen 3
SOUTH CUP FIRST ROUND
Dave Ryce reports from Victoria Park
CLIFFHANGER endings may be all the rage in soap operas, but they’re a bit less easy on the blood pressure of your average football fan.
Three goals up and coasting to victory with 20 minutes remaining of this game, some tense scenes saw Vale hanging on by their fingernails before being pulled to safety by the final whistle.
The Innerleithen side enjoyed the majority of possession during the first half and went in at the break a goal to the good, thanks to a penalty just before half-time. A rash tackle on Mark Smith by Ormiston’s Chris Cornhill saw the referee point to the spot, and although Wayne Sproule’s effort was blocked by keeper David Simmonds, Scott Devlin was following up to smash the rebound home.
Nine minutes into the second half Vale increased their advantage, courtesy of another penalty. Kayne Paterson had made his way into the area and was shaping to shoot before defender Stewart Fisher crashed into him with all the subtlety of a bus reversing into a bollard. Devlin made no mistake with his spot kick.
It then went a bit goal crazy. Vale added a third in the 68th minute when Martin Cairney slipped the ball forward for Scott Moffat to round Simmonds before finishing from a tight angle.
Game over, you would have thought, but no. As the players made their way back for the restart, substitute Sean Miller was preparing to make his entrance into the fray.
A couple of minutes on the field and he was teeing up striker Richie Weir for a crack on goal that flew into the net.
Six minutes later, Miller further cut the margin himself as he sent an overhead kick into the net after a header from Simon Heyes had come crashing back off the post.
It was looking quite perilous for Vale now as the East Lothian side pushed forward with purpose, but keeper James Hudson was ready to cast himself in the role of hero.
A fantastic double block denied Jordan Young, before a miraculous save in the dying seconds prevented the game from going into extra time.
A header from Weir looked a certain goal, but Hudson somehow leapt to claw the ball away. The headlines must have flashed in front of Miller’s eyes as the rebound fell to him, but he blasted his effort over.
Vale of Leithen: J. Hudson, W. Sproule (S. Moffat), C. Gray (D. Thomson), R. McKenzie, J. Blaikie, C. Inglis (J. Paterson), M. Smith, C. Gordon, S. Devlin, K. Paterson, M. Cairney.