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Vale of Leven 2-2 Bellshill Athletic
Vale: Boal (51), A. Brown (60)
Bellshill: J. Brown (27 pen), Rowatt (87)
Man of the match: Alan Brown

Adamslie Park. Saturday 18th May, 2002. Kick off: 3.00pm
Abercorn Builders Central League Division 1

With little between these two sides over the past couple of seasons a draw could probably been have predicted before the game. However Vale must be kicking themselves for failing to take all three points.

With 6 minutes remaining the home side were already a goal in front when Dougie Wilson broke clear, rounded the keeper and with the goal at his mercy he fired the ball against the upright. Three minutes later it was all square when Rowatt's free kick into the area sailed into the Vale net.

Before the game the home side received a blow when Brian Smith was deemed unfit to start the match which meant a recall for Bryan Boal and a switch into the central midfield for Ross Hunter.

  Alan Brown
A goal & MOM
for Alan Brown


"Hill" started strongly and could have taken the lead after 6 minutes when the ball was played into Dingwall who drifted wide of Maclaurin but there were no takers as Vale got back to clear the danger. A minute later David Meechan broke down the left and his cross to the near post was almost turned in by the alert Wilson.

Vale's twin strike force almost forged a goal after 15 minutes when Meechan pounced on a defensive slip to make ground through the middle and his outstretched leg got to the ball before the recovering defender but keeper Burns pushed the ball out to Wilson who then fired in the rebound only for the keeper to get to his feet to knock the ball around the post for a corner.

Against the run of play Bellshill took the lead when they were awarded a penalty after 27 minutes when Jim Meechan was adjudged to have pushed Dingwall in the back. From the resultant spot kick Jim Brown fired home the opener.

Brian Wardle came close to getting an equaliser a couple of minutes later but his low header was tipped around the post by Burns.

Vale made a positive start to the second half with Bryal Boal prodding home the equaliser after 51 minutes. Nine minutes later they took the lead with a stunning 25 yard strike from Alan Brown that found the postage stamp corner.

Next up David Meechan was tripped on the edge of the area and his low left foot drive took a deflection for a fruitless corner. At the other end Bellshill broke down the right and the cross found Brownlie unmarked at the back post but Boal did well to get back to charge down the shot. Vale had strong appeals for a penalty turned down when Boal burst into the "Hill" box only to be sent crashing but amazingly the referee waved play on.

As has happened in all the previous 3 meetings Bellshill put all three of their attacking subs on in an effort to ware Vale down but despite having all the play now they were leaving themselves exposed at the back. With 6 minutes remaining Vale should have wrapped up the points when Wilson broke clear but despite beating the keeper his shot rebounded from the post.

With 3 minutes remaining the visitors who needed all three points to secure promotion got the equaliser their pressure deserved. They won a dubious free kick 30 yards out and when Rowatt fired in a low shot the ball eluded everyone and somehow crept in at Maclaurin's right hand post.

At the end of the game a draw was probably about right but that is no consolation to a Vale side that now need two points from their last four games to avoid the dreaded drop.

On a day when everyone deserved praise for their efforts, Alan Brown's stunning strike went a long way to helping him win the man of the match award.


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