Vale of Leithen admit defeat in fight to avoid relegation from Scottish Lowland Football League

Calamitous was how Vale of Leithen manager Michael Wilson described the performance last night, April 5, that confirmed his side’s relegation to the East of Scotland Football League premier division.

By Ralph Mellon
Wednesday, 6th April 2022, 6:26 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th April 2022, 6:26 pm
Mark Deya on the ball for Vale of Leithen against Broomhill on Saturday (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

The Innerleithen team were defeated 5-0 by Motherwell’s Caledonian Braves and that result, coupled with Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Glasgow’s Broomhill, ensures the Borderers will finish at the foot of this season’s Scottish Lowland Football League table.

Mathematically, with two league matches left, it’s still possible for Vale to draw level on points with second-bottom Gretna 2008 but the Dumfries and Galloway side have a goal difference 80 better.

They’re currently on five points from 32 games, six adrift of 17th-placed Gretna and with a goal difference of -147, having won only one game, drawn two and lost 29.

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Jordan Hopkinson playing for Vale of Leithen against Broomhill on Saturday (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

Wilson, however, said Vale will “not lay down tools” just because they are now relegated and would regard their outstanding matches with respect, to help maintain confidence.

Vale visit Cumbernauld Colts this coming Saturday before finishing their league programme at home to Edinburgh University on Saturday, April 16, and they also have a Lowland League Cup play-off match next Tuesday evening against Gala Fairydean Rovers.

With a number of players missing yesterday due to work commitments, and Wilson himself suspended, team selection resembled putting “square pegs in round holes”, he said.

“A calamity, that's the way I would describe it,” said Wilson. “It wasn’t good to watch. A lot of things we worked on in training weren’t done. There was no shape to anything, so it’s back to the training pitch this week and we will try and get ourselves back to some sort of shape.

Vale of Leithen manager Michael Wilson watching his side being beaten 1-0 by Broomhill at the weekend (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

“In the last few weeks, we have been playing really well, keeping it tight and trying to break. We have been creating chances but we need to put the ball in the net.

“I think Tuesday night will have been a knock on confidence for the boys after the work they have done in training, so we will go back to work and keep saying to them just how important the last three games are because it's all about confidence at the end of the day.

“Once the season is finished, we will obviously start afresh, but Saturday will be tough too at Cumbernauld. When I was at Whitehill, we played them a few times, so we’ll know what to expect.

“They have an astroturf pitch as well, which I think will suit us, because we have a lot of young boys who are used to playing on astorturf. Hopefully, that will stand in our favour.”

Vale of Leithen midfielder Connor Dyat keeping possession against Broomhill on Saturday (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

Wilson will have all his missing players available again for Saturday, he hopes.

“Getting boys back into their actual positions will help a lot more with the shape and structure of the team,” he said.

The Victoria Park club have been members of the league since its creation in 2013, though they were only spared relegation in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Gala Fairydean Rovers are now the region’s only representatives in the league, down from three for its first five years, Selkirk, until August 2018, being the other.

Vale of Leithen midfielder Connor Dyat on the ball against Broomhill (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

Their highest-ever finish was sixth place in 2014, with Gala ending up 10th that year and Selkirk 12th and bottom.

James Pringle playing for Vale of Leithen against Broomhill (Photo: Bill McBurnie)