Vale of Leithen v Upper Annandale 3pm Victoria Park, Innerleithen

This Saturday Vale are at home to Upper Annandale in the SFA South Region Challenge Cup Round 2.

Uppers, as they are called, play in the South of Scotland League and are based in Moffat.

At present Uppers are sitting in the bottom half of the league, and on current form the Vale would be regarded as favourites.

However, as with any cup competition nothing can be taken for granted.

The Saffron Indian Restaurant from Innerleithen will be the Match Sponsor.

Gala Fairydean Rovers 1 Vale of Leithen 3

Vale’s injury problems have been improving and after last week’s good performance against Selkirk, Chris was able to field a more settled team.

From the start Vale were the more prominent team with the majority of possession and had most of the chances in the first half. The Rovers were still dangerous on the break and the Vale defence had to called into action on a few occasions to thwart attacks.

As has happened in many cases this season the break of the ball in the Rovers penalty box would just not fall to Vale. Vale finished the first half with a couple of players limping.

HT 0-0

The second half resumed with two Vale substitutions, Smith for McBride and S.Stevens for J.Stevens.

This appeared to have an affect on the Vale and during the first 10 minutes they were under the cosh as Rovers were starting to take control.

However, Vale gradually started to get control again and were rewarded in the 56 minute when a knockdown in the Rovers box was volleyed home by Kerr Allan.

Vale were now in control and were playing some good football and following a corner from Kerr Allan, Shaun Stevens pounced to drive home number two in the 75 minute.

Another substitute Matt Graham was beginning to give Rovers a lot of problems on their left side and from one of his mazy runs he cut into the box and unleashed a unstoppable shot to make it 3-0 in the 83 minute.

Rover’s player Noble scored a consolation goal in the 90 minute.

FT 1-3

Gala lad McBride talks up his old club, but hopes to inflict misery on them today

One thing is for certain in today’s Borders derby between Gala Fairydean Rovers and Vale of Leithen – Craig McBride will know his way to the ground.

The towering centre half grew up in Galashiels and joined Gala Fairydean, before the amalgamation with Gala Rovers, when he was a teenager.

He has fond memories of playing for his hometown club, but he is a Vale player now and his concentration is firmly on making sure the Netherdale faithful are not a happy bunch by 5pm this afternoon.

Invited to go down memory lane, he waxed lyrical about his former club, but he is determined to use the match against them as a springboard for Vale’s season.

He said: “Borders derbies are always good games and they seem to draw bigger crowds too, so I think if we managed to take all three points it would be massive for the boys and I’m sure we would get some momentum going off the back of it.

“I really enjoyed my time at Gala and played for them for a long time. When I first signed I was 16 and Gala were in the East of Scotland League and I was there for the whole transition to the Lowland League.

“It was a fun time and I really enjoyed my football. I still know plenty of the team and talk to them regularly as well as plenty of the staff who no doubt I’ll see on match day.

“The club itself is very friendly and welcoming and they’re no different with me even though I’m with the Vale now.”

Clearly McBride knows more than most about what to expect from today’s opponents, although he admits that even for him they are a difficult side to work out. He knows that Vale have their work cut out for them but takes encouragement from the last two performances, despite defeats against Whitehill Welfare and Selkirk.

“Gala, even when I played for them, have always been a slightly unpredictable team”, he added.

“Their league position probably doesn’t reflect what they are capable of as they have some very good players. I am certainly expecting a tough game but I think if we play as well as we have in our last couple of games we have a chance of taking all three points.”

Last season’s final league position was a bit of a disappointment at Victoria Park, with a feeling that a slightly higher placing could have been achieved. So far this time out that feeling has been exacerbated, with only two league wins leaving Vale in second bottom above only pointless Hawick.

However, McBride feels that the league position is false with some mitigating factors contributing to it. Encouraging performances of late haven’t been matched by results and Chris Anderson has had to deal with a crippling injury and unavailability list in pretty much every match.

McBride added: “I think anyone who has watched our last two or three games knows there has been a major improvement in our performances.

“We were unlucky not to beat Whitehill and arguably should’ve beat Selkirk as well. A couple of silly mistakes and a couple of missed chances have hurt us over the last few weeks but I think if we can rectify that we’ll be fine.

“One of our main issues this season has been inconsistency in the squad. We’ve played a different starting 11 almost every week which obviously doesn’t help.

“Now that we have players returning from injury and holidays etc we should be able to get a bit more regularity into the squad and this will only help us.”

Vale of Leithen 1 Selkirk 3

I have posted the Blogger report from Andy Bliss who travels the country visiting grounds and his report probably sums up the luck we are getting at present.

The man of the Match was Ross Brady.

A trip to Edinburgh to visit friends gave me a perfect excuse to take in my third game in five days. While our respective better halves amused themselves elsewhere, myself and Neil could nip down to the borders to take in some Lowland League action.

Our afternoon would be spent at Victoria Park, Innerleithen, watching Vale of Leithen taking on near (15 Miles) neighbours, Selkirk.
We made good time from Edinburgh to Innerleithen but then made the mistake of trusting the Satnav which led us to the middle of a housing estate and insisted the ground was in the middle of the road in a side street. Luckily a passing local put us right and directed us to the other end of the town where we parked up next to what we thought was the ground. The lack of any fencing or indeed, goalposts, showed our mistake but luckily Victoria Park proved to be only round the corner.
I was briefly quite popular with the two women on the gate where my purchase of entry to the ground, a programme, a half time draw ticket and a scarf (bargain at only £5) was probably one of the ‘sales of the day’.
We entered the ground and had a wander round the outside of the pitch, taking in the big match atmosphere (?) and getting our bearings. Victoria Park is fairly unspectacular in itself: a pitch with an old terraced stand on one side, but it’s in a very picturesque setting surrounded by trees and hills and is one of the most scenic grounds I’ve visited in my travels to date. A cheap (but very average) pie later and we took our places in the stand behind the home dugout.
Vale had not had the best of starts to the 2017/18 season having taken only 6 points from their first 10 league games and sat second to bottom of the league above the campaign’s whipping boys, Hawick Royal Albert (who had lost all nine of their fixtures to date). Selkirk, 5th in the league with 18 points from 9 games, therefore looked firm favourites on paper.
The game progressed contrary to my expectations and, rather than being a comfortable run out for the visitors, I thought Vale probably edged the first half of a close and entertaining encounter. Almost inevitably (it seems to happen regularly these days) it was Selkirk who took the lead,  against the run of play,  but Vale didn’t crumble and drew level before half time with a well taken free kick. The second half followed a similar pattern and Vale probably looked the most likely to score next. Unfortunately, a needless free kick was conceded and Selkirk took full advantage to go 1 – 2 up with less than ten minutes on the clock.
The home side desperately searched for an equaliser and had a half hearted penalty appeal turned down before, with seconds left, one of their players was definitely fouled right on the edge of the box. The referee wasn’t convinced however and play continued with Selkirk breaking down the field and extending their lead, possibly from an offside position, with the last kick of the game.
Vale can consider themselves very unlucky to lose this game and the 1 – 3 scoreline certainly flattered Selkirk.