Vale’s relegation worries heighten as lead slips

Leith Athletic 2

Vale of Leithen 1


DAVE RYCE reports from Telford College

THINGS are hotting up at the foot of the Premier Division and after this game, which saw Leith pinch a vital three points after two late strikes, Vale are starting to feel some heat.

With Selkirk now needing a miracle to avoid the drop, the second relegation place now appears to be a three-way battle between these two sides and Lothian Thistle HV, who slipped into the danger zone as Leith at last moved out of second bottom.

Vale’s cause wasn’t helped by having to play three-quarters of the match a man short following Ryan McKenzie’s dismissal midway through the first half.

The Vale full-back brought down Leith’s Jason Stevens as he broke into the area, and although McKenzie certainly got a foot on the ball, any tackle from behind tends to be frowned upon by referees. The merest of clips on Stevens saw referee John Reid first pointing to the spot and secondly reaching for a red card for McKenzie.

Leith’s Jack Combe stepped up for the spot kick, but Vale keeper Craig Weir got down to turn the effort away.

Just in case anyone thought things were now going to get dull, Vale took the lead five minutes later as a bit of sustained pressure on the Leith goal ended with Ricky Miller powering a header in from close range.

Leith started to become the dominant side, but seemed unable to make the most of their numerous chances in front of goal.

A Combe strike was disallowed for offside and other good chances fell to Stevens, William Bremner and Lewis Cairns, but none managed to find the target.

It was starting to look as if it wasn’t going to be Leith’s day, but 12 minutes from the end they eventually made the breakthrough.

Substitute Greig Tulloch’s first contribution to the game was a significant one as Stevens played him in behind the defence and his cross found Lewis Tracey, who swept the ball home at the back post.

Three minutes later, Leith went ahead. Combe cut in from the right and his cross hit off Vale’s Stephen Sproule and flew into the net.

A late rally by Vale failed to produce an equaliser and in injury time Leith were themselves reduced to 10 as captain Gary Black picked up his second caution, but seconds later the final whistle sounded.

Vale of Leithen: C. Weir, J. Paterson, R. McKenzie, R. Miller, J. Blaikie, P. Greenhill, W. Sproule, J. Lauder, S. Devlin (S. Sproule), S. Moffat (P. Lee), A. Martin.