|17th December 2016||14:00||Ferrari Packaging Lowland League||2016-17|
|Team||1st Half||2nd Half||Goals||Outcome|
|Vale of Leithen||1||1||2||Loss|
VALE OF LEITHEN 2 SHIRE 4
Shire extended their unbeaten Lowland League run to eight games with a hard-fought victory over Vale of Leithen at Victoria Park.
Despite the underfoot conditions both teams served up a pre-Christmas feast of attacking football with six goals and enough goalmouth scoring chances to give the fans plenty of value for money.
John Sludden’s team overcame a slow start to the game and despite falling behind early they had assumed a 2-1 interval lead which they might have felt they could have extended further.
The home team came back to level to scores early in the second period but then fell behind straight from the re-start and Shire were able to close out the game for another three points.
The coach made one change to the Shire eleven, bringing in Drew Ramsay for his first start since early October with Liam Allison dropping to the bench.
The visitors almost made the perfect start. A lovely lay-off set up Paul Sludden for an effort from the edge of the box but his shot went narrowly over the bar.
However, Vale went all-out for the first goal in the opening few minutes. Jay Stevens made a super run into the Shire box but couldn’t match that with his finish which he skewed wide of the near post when well-placed to score.
Then Keith McLeod sent a flashing near post header just wide of target and Blair Atkinson’s free-kick was spilled by Jamie Barclay but the rebound couldn’t be directed on goal and went wide.
The home team was in the ascendancy and not long afterwards McLeod set up Stevens for shot on the turn which was saved by the Shire keeper. And, after 12 minutes, Vale’s pressure brought the opening goal when the visiting defence was slow to close down Atkinson 20 yards from goal and he curled the ball into the net.
But, after 18 minutes, Shire should have levelled the scores. Kris Faulds’ lofted pass allowed Sludden to race clear and his superb half-volley would have ended up in the back of the net but for a brilliant one-handed save from Vale keeper Andy McQueen.
Then it was Shire’s turn to exert pressure. A Derek Ure corner might have gone straight in had it not been cleared off the line by a Vale defender and Rodgers was left with his head in his hands after failing to convert David Grant’s cut-back from ten yards out.
Another free-kick from wide on the right was met by Connor Greene’s diving back post header but his effort hit the outside, rather than the inside, of the net, although a minute later Stevens might have extended the Vale lead with a shot which went across goal and narrowly wide.
Eventually after 33 minutes Shire did level things up when David Grant’s good work set up Rodgers for a left-foot shot from the edge of the box which brushed a Vale head on its way past the keeper into the net.
Shire then had another great chance to score when Sludden’s free-kick was headed just wide by Drew Ramsay, but a minute before the interval Rodgers crossed and Faulds sent a looping header over the keeper which was helped over the line by a despairing defender to give Shire a narrow half-time lead.
But all Shire’s good work appeared to be undone just three minutes after the half-time interval when McLeod flicked a long free-kick into Atkinson’s path and the striker swept a shot past Barclay for the equalising goal.
The Shire response was immediate. One pass straight from the re-start was all it took to send Rodgers scurrying into the Vale box and he was upended leaving the referee no choice but to award a penalty kick which Rodgers himself converted to restore the lead just 80 seconds after it had been taken away.
Both teams remained committed to attack but it was Shire who took a huge step towards winning the game after 56 minutes by scoring their fourth goal. David Grant’s superb flick into Jamie Glasgow’s path sent him racing into the penalty box and he then played the ball across the face of goal for Sludden to collect, steady himself, and shoot low into the corner of the net.
Shire then tried to shut the game down but Barclay was still called upon to make a great near post save midway through the half and Vale were always willing to try and find a way back.
But Shire had chances to extend the advantage. David Grant shot straight at the keeper and Rodgers watched as McQueen turned his effort round the post for a corner. Then David Grant fired one in that looked bound for the back of the net but was deflected behind.
The striker went even closer not long after with a shot that seemed destined for the top corner but somehow just cleared the bar. Three minutes from the end David Grant was upended in the box by the keeper as he raced in on goal but, despite the howls of protest, no penalty kick was forthcoming.
A minute later David Grant set up Faulds but his shot flew across the face of goal and narrowly wide in the game’s final piece of action.
SHIRE : Barclay, A.Grant, Ramsay, Oliver, Greene, Faulds, Rodgers(Peddie 90), Ure, D.Grant, Sludden(White 78), Glasgow(Allison 82).
|Vale of Leithen FC|
|Hall Street, Innerleithen EH44 6HF, UK|