Vale of Leithen5
The third meeting of the season between these two Borders sides resulted, as the previous two had, in a Vale win, writes Dave Ryce.
But who knows what might have happened were it not for a couple of very puzzling decisions by referee Scott Miller at a crucial stage of the game?
With Vale 2-0 ahead, the home side had a perfectly legitimate goal not given as Stuart Noble’s shot hit the inside of the net and came back off one of the wheels attached to the base of the goals.
It could have set the game up for an interesting last half hour.
Instead Gala were further enraged as Vale went straight up the park to be awarded a soft penalty and it was all over bar the shouting.
Vale had edged ahead in the 28th minute when captain Jim Young rose to meet a Keith Lough corner and power a header high into the net.
A couple of minutes later some good work by John Ferguson saw the striker slip a pass through to Ross Aitchison, who found the net.
Gala thought they had put themselves back in the game just after the hour mark when Noble held off Ryan McKenzie superbly to shoot past Bruce Callan.
Almost everybody inside the 3G Arena saw it cross the line and hit the front wheel on the other side of the net, looping upwards and back out. Unfortunately for Gala, the only three people who hadn’t were the referee and his two assistants.
Worse was to come for the hosts seconds later when Andrew Common dispossessed Danny Rennie inside the area with what looked a clean tackle.
However, the official pointed to the spot, allowing Darren Aird to slot home the penalty.
Vale added a couple more as substitute Charlie Brigain hammered the ball home in the 74th minute and five minutes from time Young knocked home his second of the afternoon.
In the final minute, Vale keeper Callan appeared to lose his footing on the wet surface as he attempted a clearance just outside the area and his foot connected not with the ball as intended, but with Jamie Gibson’s leg.
Although not intentional, it was still the denial of a clear goalscoring opportunity and the referee had little option but to brandish a red card at the unfortunate keeper.
Aird took over in goal but could only watch as a Stuart Noble free kick, which a regular keeper would have struggled to stop, flew into the top corner.