Author: Blair Meikle

Match Preview – Dalbeattie Star: Ando says Star’s position is false

Dalbeattie Star’s league position is false and they will provide stern opposition, says Chris Anderson.

They have typically been competing higher up the table but find themselves in second bottom four points behind Vale, giving today’s game added importance.

But Anderson is preparing himself to face the Dalbeattie team he has been used to in previous seasons.

He is though happy with his teams form and believes it is an indicator that they can be a match for Star.

He said: “It’s a crucial match for both teams.

“In recent years today’s opposition have proved to be a strong Lowland League side and their current league position doesn’t do them justice.

“Three wins out of four is good form by anyone’s standards and we will be continuing to build on that in the weeks ahead.

“We can’t look too far ahead and we know that we need to be on the top of our game if we are to get the result we want.”

A busy festive period sees Vale play some of the teams around them and also Borders derbies against Gala, Hawick and Selkirk.

Ando knows it could be a defining period. He added: “The lead up to Christmas will shape our season with big game after big game.

”The players deserve the plaudits for their effort but we all know wins are what is required.”

Three key players come back into the squad for today’s match —Ally Smith, Craig McBride and Brad Raiker.

Chris Anderson remains firmly behind his players despite a lacklustre showing last weekend.

Vale went down 4-0 to league leaders BSC Glasgow, conceding two goals inside the first three minutes.

But the manager is steadfast in his belief that everyone at the club is devoted to the cause. He believes they will show that today and win a place in the last eight of the South Challenge Cup.

He said: “I would like to say that whilst last weeks performance wasn’t anywhere near the level we can reach, I would never question the effort or commitment of any player or staff member.

“We always give our best and the commitment the players show on a weekly basis is fantastic.

“No matter where you go supporters will always have a go when the team is getting beat but nobody wants to bring success to Vale of Leithen more than myself and my staff.”

There was controversy the last time Upper Annandale visited Innerleithen, with the referee ruling the pitch unplayable despite the protestations of both clubs.

“We welcome Upper Annandale to Victoria Park for the second time this season. Hopefully this time the game will go ahead.

“After last weeks poor display I am confident the players will look to react and make sure we are in the Quarter Final of the South Challenge Cup”, added Anderson.
With a nightmarish injury list now looking to be in the past, Anderson believes that there is now a healthy competition within the squad for a place in the team. He hopes for a positive response which can only help his cause.
“The squad is bigger now than ever and we have players who are slowly gaining full fitness.
“I am a believer that competition for places is a must and the players will need to respond well to keep their place in the team as we have a number of players desperate for a place in the starting 11.
“It’s also important to remember that whoever gets the chance to start the game they should be more than capable of delivering a performance.”



Match Preview-Civil Service Strollers: Nearly full strength Vale ready for tough challenge

Chris Anderson is fully aware of the challenge his Vale side face today.
Civil Service Strollers are the visitors to Victoria Park and a decent start to the season has them sitting just outside the top half of the table.
However, he is pleased that he is pretty much a full squad to choose from after a difficult spell on the injury front.
He said: “Today we welcome Civil Service Strollers to Victoria park and I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Alec Cunningham and his team who have had a good start to the season. They will prove to be a tough challenge for us today.
“With the exception of Ross Brady who has to work work and long term absentee James Elliot we have a full squad to choose from. Competition for places will now be a challenge for the players and once their in it will be up to them to stay there.”
Anderson also reflected on the unfortunate events of last weekend which led to the postponement of the cup tie against Upper Annandale, much to the annoyance of both teams.
Vale officials felt that the pitch was in a playable condition but the referee disagreed and said it was too soft in places. This frustrated everyone involved who were desperate to play the fixture, especially since the away side had traveled a long distance from Moffat.
He added: “I was amazed last week’s game didn’t go ahead. I was not only disappointed for our players who were desperate to put in another good performance, but I felt sorry for the away team who had traveled a distance at some expense.”

Match Preview – Upper Annandale: Ando dreaming of cup success after derby win

Chris Anderson reckons it is about time Vale of Leithen had some cup glory. And last weekend’s derby victory could well be the perfect launching pad.

Ahead of today’s South Challenge Cup match against Upper Annandale from the South of Scotland League, Anderson is fantasising about a day in the sun with some silverware.

If his team keep up the level of performance from last Saturday’s 3-1 win at Gala Fairydean Rovers then his dreams may just come true.

He believes it was an indication of just what they can achieve after a slow start to the season. Anderson said: “From day one I’ve said the cup games are important to the team and today’s game is another challenge for us to build on last week’s performance.

“It’s always nice to dream and it’s been far too long since this old club has had some success.

“Last week’s performance against Gala was as good as we’ve been this season and probably in my time as manager of the club. Not only was it a much needed three points against our local rivals but also the manner of our display proved we are a capable side.”

During the difficult run Anderson and his players were not helped by a combination of a crippling injury list and unavailabilities for various other reasons.

It may be no coincidence that the improved performance came when there was almost a full squad to choose from. Andy Martin and Tommy Patterson are now set to return to bolster his options further, along with the return to the club of both Ally Smith and Jack Blaikie.

“One factor leading into today’s game is the return of a number of players from injury. The strength of the squad has been tested and I’m pleased to see Andy Martin and Tommy Patterson return.

“I was also keen to continue our strengthening of the squad by adding Jack Blaikie and Ally Smith both will be fantastic additions”, added Anderson.

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.”