Preston just got more athletic – much to Vale’s dismay

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Preston Athletic 2

Vale of Leithen 1


DAVE RYCE reports from Pennypit Park

DEFEAT at Pennypit Park saw Vale crash out of the East of Scotland League Cup, the final cup competition of the season.

This was Vale’s third trip of the season to East Lothian with the previous two, on Premier Division and South Region Challenge Cup business, both having been won fairly comfortably by the Innerleithen men. But they were handed a surprise on this occasion by a much-improved Athletic – who belied their recent reputation for being a defensive side willing to sit tight and grind out results by putting the Vale defence under plenty of pressure during the first half.

They went ahead in the 24th minute as a cross by Craig Scott took a wicked deflection off Vale’s Jamie Lauder and spun on to the far post, leaving keeper Darren Walker powerless to prevent it from going in.

After 38 minutes, Preston doubled their lead and although it was another own goal, it was the result of some intelligent play from a set-piece. Bryan Wilson fired a low corner in towards the front post which was cleverly dummied by John Kerr, hit off the boot of Vale captain Paul Lee and flew into the net.

Although the two own goals perhaps represented a bit of luck for Preston, they were actually good value for their half-time lead. The Innerleithen men came more into their game in a second half played in constant rainfall, but found Preston goalkeeper Ross Gilpin in great form.

Vale’s Paul Greenhill seized a loose ball and curled a shot that was on its way in before Gilpin leapt to claw it away. David Anderson then whipped a cross in for Scott Moffat, but Gilpin got down superbly to turn his first-time shot round the post.

Vale did find a way past Gilpin in the 74th minute as John Hall glanced a header into the net from a Jamie Lauder free kick.

Most of the remaining quarter of an hour, plus five minutes of injury time, was spent in the Preston half as Vale surged forward for the equaliser.

But try as they might, Gilpin would not be beaten again, doing well to deny both Lauder and Steve Radzynski as Preston desperately, and successfully, defended their advantage.

Vale of Leithen: D. Walker; J. Hall, J. Lauder, R. Miller, P. Lee, K. Dodds, A. Martin (D. Gillon 69), P. Greenhill, S. Radzynski, S. Moffat and D. Anderson.