Vale fail to hit the right notes

Vale of Leithen 2

Preston Athletic 4


DAVE RYCE reports from Victoria Park

AS ANYONE who has lived next door to someone learning to play a musical instrument knows, listening to the same tune played repeatedly can get a bit tedious.

So it is with Vale just now. If certain events from this match sound familiar – a first half in which the Innerleithen men were the better side, an equaliser just before half-time and a winner from the opposition late in the game, for example – it’s because you’ve probably read about them many times already this season.

Vale certainly didn’t hit many wrong notes during the opening 45 minutes, some slick passing moves and sustained pressure on Preston’s goal saw a number of near things before a thoroughly deserved opener in the 37th minute.

Martin Cairney fired a cross towards the back post and Danny Noon controlled the ball on his chest before sweeping it beyond keeper Shaun Thomson.

Although they had hardly been in the game, Preston found an equaliser two minutes before the break as Sean Martin ran on to a long ball to slip it beyond Vale keeper James Hudson.

The visitors almost took the lead early in the second half as Gary McCormack lobbed Hudson, but Jack Blaikie got back to hook off the line and it was Vale who went in front for the second time just past the hour mark as Noon was the victim of a clumsy challenge in the area by Kevin Morrison and the referee pointed immediately to the spot.

Noon picked himself up before placing the penalty into the corner of the net.

But it was a lead that always looked a bit fragile. Preston’s policy of hitting long balls towards their speedy front men looked likely to bring some reward and when a Martin header sneaked inside the far post in the 79th minute, the East Lothian side sensed the points were there for the taking.

Martin completed his hat-trick three minutes from time as a Mark Cherrie free kick was knocked on by McCormack to the striker, who blasted his shot home.

A couple of minutes later, Martin saved his best for last, picking up possession just inside the Vale half before going on a tremendous run through the defence and round keeper Hudson, before rolling the ball home.

Vale of Leithen: J. Hudson, J. Paterson, J. Blaikie, R. McKenzie, R. McWilliams, C. Gordon, M. Cairney, K. Dodds (K. Paterson), D. Noon, W. Sproul and A. Ponton (S. Moffat).