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Vale of Leithen 2 Dalbeattie Star 3

Today’s game was again more about the pitch than standard of play.

With rain in the previous few days the pitch was heavy and started to deteriorate as soon as play commenced.

The Vale had the better of the early exchanges with the Star starting find their feet after 20 minutes. However, it was Vale who took the lead in the 26 minute Ainslie Hunter scored after a melee in the Star box.

Vale failed to hold the lead for very long and Tommy Muir equalised for Star in 30 minutes.

At this stage Star were beginning to press and were rewarded when some slack marking allowed Farrel O’Sullivan to score in the 40 minute.

HT 1-2

The second half continued as the first, with both teams struggling on the heavy surface.

Things got worse for Vale in 52 minute when Dean Brotherston increased Star’s lead when prodding home a cross.

The rest of the game was unspectacular with both teams battling to overcome the conditions.

Vale were awarded a penalty in injury time, which Kerr Allan hammered home.

A another worry for the Vale was the injury to Tommy Patterson, who he is just beginning to recover from a knee injury in the early part of the season.

FT 2-3

Man of the Match was Ainslie Hunter as selected by Match Sponsor, Currie Roofing.

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.

Vale Of Leithen 3 Upper Annandale 1

After an early morning inspection the pitch was deemed playable. The underlying surface was heavy, but both teams were happy to see the game going ahead after the fiasco of the postponed game two weeks previously.

From the kick off Vale were showing the signs of trying to finish the game off early and were rewarded in the 9 minute when an in swinging corner from Liall Smith found the top corner.

As the half continued Vale were having the majority of the play, although the Uppers were dangerous on the break and to their credit were trying to play football on a surface which was deteriorating rapidly and making flowing football from both sides vary difficult.

Vale were starting to regret a series of missed chances and a warning to them came in the last minute of the half when Uppers had the ball in the Vale net only to have it disallowed for an initial foul at a throw in prior to the ball being delivered into the penalty box.

HT 1-0

As the game progressed Vale were still guilty of missing chances and the Uppers were starting to come into the game.

Due to the playing surface cutting up more and more mistakes from both teams were occurring and the game was starting to even out, although the best chances were still falling to the Vale.

However, the Uppers were dangerous at set pieces due to their height and from a corner in the 63 minute they equalised when a nodded down ball was poked home.

This shocked the Vale and for a few minutes they were under the cosh, however with captain  Ainslie Hunter driving and shouting encouragement, they regained composure and started to be more dominant again.

With extra time looming a Vale corner in the 87 minute resulted in Alex Imlah slamming home from close range.

With the Uppers chasing an equaliser, they were left exposed in injury time when Sean Stewart broke free and was upended in the box.

Kerr Allan hammered the penalty home to secure a worthy victory.

Credit must be given to both sides for making a game of it on a very difficult pitch.

FT 3-1

Man of the Match was Jack Blaikie as selected by Match Sponsor, Saffron Indian Restaurant, Innerleithen.

Vale’s next opponent in the 3rd Round will be Whitehill Welfare at home (tbc)

Also, a note that all the programmes with the poppy to commemorate Armistice Day were sold out.

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.”