Vale push for third place, but finish in seventh

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Vale of Leithen 2

Spartans 4


DAVE RYCE reports from Victoria Park

IT’S AN indication of how tight the Premier Division has been this season, that just weeks after confirming their place in next season’s top flight, Vale went into this game knowing that a victory might – depending on other results going their way – have seen them finishing third.

Therefore Victoria Park played host to a game that was by no means reminiscent of an end-of-season meaningless fixture – instead, one that was high-tempo, physical and at points bad-tempered, but in the end a defeat rendered events elsewhere academic.

Following a cagey start to the game that saw both sides knock the ball around well, Spartans took the lead in the 25th minute when a Donal Henretty cross found Jack Beesley at the far post.

Beesley didn’t exactly make clean contact, but this turned out to his advantage as the spin on the ball left Darren Walker helpless to prevent it from arcing inside the post.

Within a minute of the start of the second half, Spartans increased their lead as a scramble in the penalty area following a corner ended with the ball dropping kindly for Chris Townsley, who fired the ball home.

However, in the 51st minute Vale did find the target when Scott Moffat chased a long ball forward and managed to get a foot to it to lob over keeper Chris Flockhart, who scrambled back, but couldn’t prevent the ball from crossing the line.

The goal should have given Vale a real lift, but before the game could restart the home side were reduced to 10 men as referee Paul Wedlock cautioned John Hall for dissent twice within the space of a few seconds.

The capital side took full advantage of their subsequent numerical advantage with two quickfire goals as Omar Kader set up Henretty for Spartans’ third in the 76th minute, before the two players reversed their roles two minutes later when Henretty put Kader in to find the net with a low shot.

Darren Gillon pulled another goal back for Vale as he headed in a Ricky Miller free kick three minutes from time. Radzynski flashed a shot across goal and wide of the far post in the last minute, but in the end Vale had to be content with a seventh-place finish.

Vale: D. Walker; J. Hall, C. Beaton, R. Miller, P. Lee, P. Greenhill, D. Gillon, K. Bracks (A. Milligan), S. Radzynski, S. Moffat and S. Doohan.