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Millburn Park, Leven Street, Alexandria, Dunbartonshire
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Vale of Leven 4-3 Port Glasgow
Vale: Ward (11, 41), McKernan (65), D. Meechan (90)
Port Glasgow: Alford (56), F. McKay (68), Diamond (89)
Man of the match: Hugh Ward
Millburn Park, Saturday 23rd March, 2002. Kick off: 3.00pm
Central League Cup Round 1

Vale would like to thank MORRISON & RITCHIE BUTCHERS of Bank
Street, Alexandria for sponsoring Saturday's match ball.


Vale supporters witnessed two sides to Vale on Saturday as their team only just made it into the next round of the League Cup. First half Vale were two ahead in terms of goals scored, but they were miles ahead of the second division leaders in terms of skill and movement. Second half it was a totally different showing as Port took the game to Vale and at times ripped them apart with some clever play.

With the match into 4 minutes injury time the visitors levelled the tie with a controversial goal that never was close to crossing the line. However in a dramatic last attack Vale substitute David Meechan struck to avoid the dreaded penalty shoot out.

Boss Hugh Hamill started with the same eleven as at Bellshill with a welcome return to the bench of winger Dougie Wilson after his long lay off through injury and a visit to the South Pacific. Once again John Ritchie failed to appear and with Boal out for another two weeks Vale's attacking options were limited.

  Diving header from Scott McKernan
Diving header from
Scott McKernan


Vale started brightly with Jim Meechan's long ball finding Ward on the left and his clever close control created space for the shot that rebounded from the crossbar with McGarrigle in the Port goal beaten. Ward wasn't to be denied and 4 minutes later he struck to put Vale in front. Brown's ball over the top saw him in on McGarrigle and he lifted the bouncing ball over the keeper's head before heading home from 2 yards.

The home side were in great form as they played some fine attacking football but they contrived to miss chance after chance with McKernan twice bringing out good stops from the Port No.1. The visitors won their first corner after half an hour but that was about their only highlight of the first period. Vale's dominance of the half was rewarded with a second goal from Hugh Ward. Four minutes from the break Brown burst forward and when the ball ran kindly to McKernan he saw his shot blocked by the keeper but the ball dropped to Ward 12 yards out and he hooked the ball home.

The half ended with Vale well on top but having not capatalised on the many chances there was still hope for the Port. Within 11 minutes of the second period they were thrown a lifeline when Brown's slack pass on the attack led to a quick counter by Port's F. McKay and from his cross Wardle just failed to get his head to the ball allowing Alford time and space to steady himself before firing home from 6 yards.

Four minutes later another long ball out of defence caught Vale out and when Meechan failed to cut out, D. McKay was onto the ball in a flash but Maclaurin made a super save at the expense of a corner. At this stage there was only one team in the match and it certainly wasn't Vale. After 62 minutes only a marginal offside decision denied D. McKay a chance at goal as Vale hung on.

Vale were to get a bit of respite when they added a third goal after 65 minutes. Ward collected the ball and sent Goodwin away on the right and from his great cross into the box Scott McKernan dived to head only his second goal of the season.

Two minutes later the injured Deeley was replaced by comeback man Wilson but before he got a chance to make an impact Vale were back in trouble a minute later. Vale's offside play was punished by Frank McKay, three yards offside, who ran in to finish in some style past Maclaurin.

It was Vale's turn to attack and from a Brown free kick McKernan headed over from close range before he was replaced by David Meechan.

With Port throwing everything at Vale it looked like the home side were going to do well to hang onto their slender one goal margin but with 4 minutes injury time on the clock Vale looked like being robbed of their win.

Port attacked down the right but there seemed little danger but F. McKay was given too long to pick out Diamond in the middle but his goalbound header from 12 yards was comfortably parried by Maclaurin and as he grasped the ball at least a foot from his line the nearest Port player conned the referee by claiming a goal and the match official amazingly pointed to the centre circle. With Vale players going crazy it was another surprise that only Goodwin earned a caution.

After the mayhem died down Vale kicked off and Smith surged forward and rolled a pass to David Meechan and Vale's top scorer struck a first time shot low into the net from the edge of the area. Vale were through but only just after an exciting finale.

Best for Vale were Lacy, J. Meechan, Wardle and man of the match Hugh Ward.


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