Vale of Leithen boss Grant Sandison still confident he can keep side up with 10 games of season left to go

Vale of Leithen now have 10 games left to secure their survival in the Scottish Lowland Football League and new head coach Grant Sandison remains confident they can stay up despite having their 22nd defeat of the season inflicted on them this week.

By Darin Hutson
Wednesday, 29th December 2021, 11:44 am
Updated Thursday, 30th December 2021, 10:59 am
Rangers B's Robbie Ure being put under presure by Vale of Leithen's Rhys Anderson (Photo: Bill McBurnie)
Rangers B's Robbie Ure being put under presure by Vale of Leithen's Rhys Anderson (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

The Innerleithen side, propping up the league with four points from 24 games, were beaten 6-0 at their Victoria Park home ground by Rangers B yesterday, December 28, leaving them three points adrift of second-bottom Gretna 2008 and 14 behind third-bottom Cumbernauld Colts but with 30 still to play for.

Their second-placed Glaswegian visitors’ goals were scored by Alex Lowry on 29 minutes, Robbie Ure on 55 and 59, Tony Weston on 65, Kane Ritchie-Hosler on 75 and Cole McKinnon on 80 in front of a sellout crowd of 500.

Next up for Vale is a Borders derby against Gala Fairydean Rovers this coming Saturday, with kick-off at 3pm.

Vale of Leithen's Daniel Deya evading a challenge from Rangers B's Alex Lowry (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

That game is at the ninth-placed Galashiels side’s Netherdale home ground, the reverse fixture having been an 8-0 victory for Rovers at Victoria Park at the start of September.

Sandison took over the month after, replacing Chris Anderson, and since then he’s overseen Vale’s first point and first win since a 3-1 victory away to Gala in December 2019, those steps forward being achieved by a 1-1 draw away to Gretna B at the end of October and a 1-0 away win at Bo’ness United earlier this month. The latter was also their first clean sheet since a 5-0 home win against Cumbernauld Colts in April 2019.

He’s well aware those achievements are only a starting point, however, and that Vale will probably need to at least triple their points tally of four if they’re going to survive, saying: “It’s difficult to put these things in perspective when you’ve just been beaten 6-0 but they do show where we’ve come from in a short space of time.

“If you said to us back in mid-October when we took over that we’d have four points on the board come Christmas and only be three behind Gretna with 10 games left to play, we’d have bitten your hand off.

Vale of Leithen manager Grant Sandison, third from right, watching his side being beaten 6-0 by Rangers B (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

“Our aim when we arrived was to stay up, and that’s our aim still.”

Sandison is hopeful of adding to his side’s points total on New Year’s Day but is all too aware that will be a tough ask against a team nine league places and 26 points above them.

“It’s a game we feel we can take points from if we play properly, stay focused and play like we can,” he said.

“If we can give the best version of ourselves, we can get something out of it.

Club captains Leon King, of Rangers B, and Michael Robertson, of Vale of Leithen, exchanging pennants prior to kick-off (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

“Gala are a good team and they’ve got a lot of good players but they have been a wee bit inconsistent, so we’ve got to see it as an opportunity to try to pick up points.

“It’s a difficult league and putting any kind of run together is hard.

“The task coming in was to catch Gretna and that’s what we’ve got to aim for.

“I think we’ll need to get at least 12 points to keep us up, and we’re on four now, so that’s two wins and two draws we’ll need.

“Some games might seem to be easier than others looking at the table, but with the place we’re in, we can’t look at it that way and we’ve got to look at every game as an opportunity to pick up points.”