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Greenock 3-2 Vale of Leven
Greenock: Docherty (5), Black (47, 52)
Vale: Brown (12), Wardle (32)
Man of the match: Alan Brown
Ravenscraig Stadium, Saturday 16th February, 2002. Kick off: 2.00pm
Abercorn Builders Central League Division 1

Vale fielded an unchanged side at Ravenscraig as they returned to league business following last week's disappointing Scottish Cup exit at the hands of Linlithgow Rose. Greenock had not defeated the Millburn men in two and a half years but were in confident mood following their recently improved league form. Vale on the other hand were looking to pick up their first away league points of the season.

It was Greenock who struck first when a cross from the left fell to Thomas Docherty, who was allowed time to control the ball before poking it home with his left foot.

Greenock had the chance to make it two shortly afterwards when Graham Black sprung the offside trap and found himself one on one with Matthew Maclaurin in the Vale goal. Black rounded the keeper but, with the goal gaping, somehow managed to hit the woodwork with his weaker left foot.

  Alan Brown
Alan Brown - scored
against Greenock
once again

Following that narrow escape Vale started to apply some pressure of their own. On 12 minutes, Alan Brown picked the ball up 30 yards out and hit a fine right foot drive, which took a deflection before settling in the back of the net. It was the fourth time in a row that Brown had scored at Ravenscraig against Greenock.

Brown almost scored again with another long range drive which took a couple of deflections before being put round the post by Mark Monk in the Greenock goal. Boal also had a great chance to score when he rounded the keeper but one of the Greenock defenders got back to clear his effort for a corner. Both teams were fighting hard for the points but it was Vale who were to take the lead.

Brown swung in a deep corner which Brian Wardle rose to power home at the back post for his second goal of the season. It was looking good for Vale at this point as they went in at the interval with a one goal advantage. However, for the second week running, it was the start of the second half that was to prove Vale's downfall as Greenock hit two quick goals.

First of all, Black beat the offside trap to be left one on one with Maclaurin for the second time in the game. This time he made no mistake as he slotted the ball past Maclaurin to level the scores.

Five minutes later Greenock took the lead when John Paul Dow found himself with space on the right hand side of the box. He squared the ball for Black who sidefooted home for his second goal of the game. The goal stood despite furious protests from the Vale players that the Greenock forward was in an offside position.

As the second half wore on Vale fought hard to get back in the game. Stevie Gow had come on for the injured Jim Meechan at half time and Scott McKernan came on for John Ritchie as Vale searched for the equaliser. It was Greenock however who had the better chances to tie the game up as Vale left gaps at the back as they pushed up. Only some great saves from Maclaurin prevented Greenock from adding to their lead.

Vale's best chance of the second half fell to Bryan Boal when the striker lifted the ball over Monk as he raced to close him down, but Davie Lindsay got back to clear the danger.

Once again Vale failed to pick up points on their travels and will have to improve for next week's West of Scotland tie against Lanark at Millburn Park, kick off 2pm. Best for Vale today were Maclaurin, Wardle and man of the match Alan Brown.

Team: Maclaurin; Lacy, Wardle, J. Meechan (Gow), Deeley; Hunter, Brown, Smith, D.Meechan; Ritchie (McKernan), Boal. Unused subs: Goodwin, Dalrymple & Renton.

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