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Bellshill Althletic 2-1 Vale of Leven
Bellshill: Brownlie (58), Brown (85)
Vale: Rowat O.G. (36)
Man of the match: Jim Meechan
Brandon Park, Saturday 16th March, 2002. Kick off: 3.00pm
Abercorn Builders Central League Division 1

This game hinged on 10 crucial second half minutes as Hugh Hamill's side threw away a chance to build on last week's fine win at Shotts.

The home side had most of the play but Vale were left kicking themselves having thrown away a chance of victory when Ward missed a penalty, Dalrymple received a second caution and to cap it all home skipper Brown netted from close range with only 5 minutes left.

Vale's pool was stretched to the limits with both David Meechan and Ross Hunter unfit to start, their places going to Scott McKernan and Kevin Goodwin. With Renton released and Ritchie awol Vale were also had Gow joining Boal, David Meechan and Wilson on the injury list.

The game started with the home side having the best of the opening play with Vale under pressure. However Scott McKernan gave Vale some hope with a shot on the turn that was grasped under the crossbar by keeper Rowan.

  Kevin Goodwin
Kevin Goodwin -
recalled to the
starting line-up


The home keeper then had to get down smartly to hold a well struck long range drive from Alan Brown. Hill winger O'Brien was seeing a lot of the ball and after 22 minutes Dalrymple was cautioned for halting his progress. After 25 minutes Vale were caught out when Bryson broke clear on the right and Maclaurin came off his line smartly to block his attempted lob.

Vale stunned the home side by taking the lead after 36 minutes against the run of play. Ward brought the ball down, released Goodwin on the right and his precision cross into the box seemed destined for the head of Deeley but defender Rowat got his head to the ball first but only succeeded in heading into his own net from close range. The home side responded but Wardle cleared well from O'Brien as Vale held on for a half time lead.

Into the second half and after only 4 minutes Bryson wasted a great chance when he met a free kick from the right but his header flashed past the far post. The home side made a substitution after 57 minutes with local hero Brownlee coming on to hope to add to his two goals against Vale last season. The substitute was only on a minute when he netted the equaliser. Maclaurin made a great stop to block his initial effort on the right but as the ball was then returned from the left Vale were caught thinking they had dealt with the danger but Brownlee sent a glancing header into the net from close range. Rowan then made a fine save to clutch Dalrymple's curling free kick.

The home keeper then made a mess of a clearance after 75 minutes hitting the ball straight to McKernan. The Vale striker had a free run in on goal and after steadying himself to score he was sent tumbling by Tomlinson's desperate last gasp tackle. A penalty it was but remarkably the defender escaped a red card earning only a caution. The normally reliable Hugh Ward stepped up but his poorly struck shot was easily pushed away by the diving Rowan.

Five minutes Vale then passed up another great chance when Ward set up Deeley whose shot was parried by the keeper and Brown from 3 yards hit a defender on the line.

Worse was too follow as after 82 minutes Dalrymple was caught by the pace of O'Brien and he unfortunately sent him tumbling yet again as the referee issued him with a second yellow card. Vale immediately withdrew McKernan and put on Hunter with Deeley dropping back but within 3 minutes they were down and out as Hill grabbed a winner.

O'Brien was given too much room on the edge of the area and when his shot hit Lacy it fell kindly to home skipper Brown who blasted home from 3 yards out.

Vale knew they had thrown away at least a couple of points against an entertaining home side who probably deserved their win but that makes it no easier to bear. Best for Vale were Maclaurin, Lacy and Wardle who all performed well with Jim Meechan again man of the match.

This week Vale are at home to Port Glasgow in the first round of the League Cup, kick off 3pm. Hopefully Dougie Wilson will be back in contention for a place in the squad but more importantly are the worrying injuries ruling out Boal and David Meechan.


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