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  • David Knox


Picture by Peter Dalgleish




VALE manager Chris Anderson was left feeling washed out after his team gave up a two-goal lead in the pouring rain at Netherdale on Wednesday. Downpours throughout most of the 90 minutes of the Lowland League derby made life difficult for both teams. But it was Vale who raced into an early two-goal lead – before being turned over by their neighbours after the interval. Manager Anderson told us:

“We lost a bit of momentum in the second half and we suffered for it. We are without two or three important players and it was clearly noticeable. We lacked that bit of punch in the final third and it was a disappointing night for us.”

Despite the forced changes due to Blair Atkinson, Jay Stevens and Kevin Motion being absent, as well as keeper Andy McQueen injuring himself during the warm up, Vale started brightly. Within 90 seconds of play they forced an own goal through George Windram. The towering centre half’s attempted cut out sailed over the head of John Dodds and into his own net.

Just 12 minutes later fellow centre half Craig Meikle clipped Ross Lamb as he charged into the area.

Liam McIntosh tucked away the penalty. Vale perhaps should have been awarded a second penalty just three minutes later following a clumsy challenge by Lee Stephen but referee Daniel Graves waved away the protests.

Gala pulled a goal back with their first genuine attack on 21 minutes. Stuart Noble was tackled just inside the area and Des Sutherland swooped on the loose ball to blast a shot beyond stand-in keeper Jamie Shiel.

Vale continued to shade possession and the chances with Keith McLeod testing Dodds with a powerful shot after turning neatly inside the area.

A rare mistake from Leithen captain James Elliot gifted Gala an equaliser just two minutes into the second half. The defender’s back pass fell short and Sutherland took full advantage with a powerful, low shot.

Only the feet of Shiel prevented Noble edging the Fairydean Rovers in front approaching the hour.

And it was Gala who continued to press for a third. It came on 75 minutes as Noble raced onto a David Bonnar through ball to pick his spot in the near corner. The game was won six minutes later after Ross Aitchison’s initial shot rebounded onto the bar and fellow substitute Sean Pringle tucked away the rebound.

Gala boss Steven Noble said: “It took us the best part of half an hour to find our feet, but when we did I thought we were the better team.

“We had to make a few changes tonight with players coming in and I thought, considering the changes, we did well.”

GFR Team : J Dodds, L Stephen, B Miller, C Meikle, G Windram, D Bonnar, D Smith, A Watson (R Aitchison 76), S Noble, D Sutherland (S Pringle 80) & D Simpson.

Vale of Leithen. J Shiel, J Scott-Mercer (S Lynch 83), T Patterson, K Boyes, J Elliot, R Manson (O’Donnell 88), S Stewart, A Hunter, B Raiker (R Lamb 10), K McLeod & L McIntosh.

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