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Thorniewood United 0-3 Vale Of Leven
Vale: Ward 23, 76, 85 mins
Man of the Match: Hugh Ward
Saturday 5th October, 2002. Kick off: 3.00pm
Robertson Park, Tannochside.
Scottish Junior Cup Round 1

Vale progressed to the second round of the cup after this tough encounter against a very spirited home side. It took two goals in the last 14 minutes to finally see off the threat of an equaliser from the men from Tannochside.

Vale's hero of the day was hat-trick hero Hugh Ward who became the first Vale player to hit a Scottish Cup treble since John Filshie hit three at Dundee East Craigie in a first round tie in 1980.

After an idle week Vale boss Hugh Hamill fielded the same starting eleven as at Neilston last time out with Wilson and Ward swapping roles. Having reached the last sixteen last season before falling to eventual cup winners Linlithgow Vale were keen to sample the delights of an extended cup run again this season.

  Hugh Ward
Hat trick for Hugh Ward

Up against a side from a division beneath them Vale knew that the home side would be up for this one especially with old adversary Willie Dobbins in charge. Vale were first with a shot at goal after 5 minutes but Alan Brown's free kick was well dealt with by man of many clubs Steven Mennie.

The home side were on top early on as Vale struggled to take a grip of the game and after 8 minutes Gillespie screwed a shot wide of target from good position, a minute later defender McMullan was allowed to stride forward but his powerful drive flew wide of the Vale goal. The first corner of the game came after 12 minutes when Vale's Wardle cleared from under the bar. Wardle was involved at the other end minutes later when he headed Brown's free kick back across goal and the diving Wilson just failed to connect before Ward's effort was blocked for a corner. From Brown's flag kick Wardle headed inched past the far post.

Vale survived a scare after 19 minutes when Rogers dropped a long high ball under challenge from Gillespie and with the goal gaping the striker fired past the empty net.

The home side price paid the price for that costly miss as Vale edged in front just four minutes later. A long through ball was left by Shields and Hugh Ward pounced, his initial effort was blocked by the keeper but he swiveled to hook the rebound into the unprotected goal.

With their noses in front Vale appeared to grow in confidence and twice Hunter crosses from the left almost brought reward. With 5 minutes to the break a driving run from King played in Ward on the left and from his cross only a fine save from Mennie denied Wilson.

Five minutes into the second half a mix up between Goodwin and Hunter on the left saw United win a corner only for the unmarked McMullan head wide. Minutes later King played in Wilson on the right and as he tried to take the ball around Mennie the keeper plucked the ball from his feet as he seemed sure to score.

Next up Wilson played in Ward but the striker took far too long and shot tamely into the arms of the keeper. A few minutes later and the pair combined again this time Ward blasted a shot in to the side netting as Vale's support began to wonder if the misses would come back to haunt them. After 68 minutes United's tricky forward Goldie helped the ball on and Gillespie scooped the ball over the bar from 12 yards.

The real turning point of the match came after 75 minutes when Vale keeper Rogers, who by his own high standards was having a poor match, made a fantastic diving save to clutch a well struck drive from Miller that seemed destined for the back of the net. Vale immediately broke to the opposite end of the park and grabbed a crucial second goal. Smith chased a lost cause on the right and helped the ball on to Wilson who in turn crossed to the unmarked Hugh Ward who steadied himself to score.

5 minutes later Smith had a goal disallowed due to a marginal offside decision. Smith then made Vale's final goal when he won the ball on the right and crossed for Ward who controlled the ball to slot home from close range for a well deserved hat-trick.

At the end of the day Hugh Hamill's men just deserved to go through but they were well tested by a tricky home attack. Vale were best served by Meechan, Wardle, Lacy, Brown, King, Wilson, Smith and man of the match for his goals alone, hat-trick hero Hugh Ward.

Team: Rogers; Lacy, Wardle, Meechan, Goodwin (Anton Brown); Hunter (Deeley), King, Alan Brown, Wilson (McKernan); Smith, Ward. SUBS NOT USED - MacLaurin & Barton.

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