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Millburn Park, Leven Street, Alexandria, Dunbartonshire
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Vale of Clyde 2-2 Vale Of Leven
Vale of Clyde: Mathieson 10 mins, Mackin 19 mins
Vale of Leven: Boal 60 mins, Ward 87 mins
Man of the Match: Jim Meechan
Saturday 28th December, 2002. Kick off: 1.45pm
Fullarton Park
Abercorn Builders Central District Division 1

Hugh Hamill's men finally earned some credit after a much-improved second half fight back earned a point. However the question on everyones lips was, just how much turkey had the Vale players consumed over the past few days? Vale were woeful in the first period and could have been four down in the opening 20 minutes. The second half saw a marked improvement with the sleeves well and truly rolled up and although it was hardly silky soccer from Vale their effort deservedly won a point from a situation that seemed well beyond them at the break.

With Ross Hunter ruled out through injury Vale welcomed back Brian Smith from holiday otherwise it as the same side that won at Benburb last time out.

Starting a crucial period that sees Vale also face league leaders Kilsyth next week and then their Scottish tie against Renfrew the week after it was vital that the Millburn men started this game in the right frame of mind. Fullarton Park had not been a happy hunting ground for Vale of late and as always at difficult venues such as this it is not always the better footballing side that claims the points.

  Bryan Boal
Boal's goal got Vale
back in the game

Right from the kick off Vale looked rusty and after only 10 minutes they fell behind. A long hopeful cross came over from the left and with Vale caught out, home striker MATHIESON, under pressure from Goodwin, stuck out a foot and somehow the ball floated over Rogers and into the net.

Two minutes later it was very nearly two nil when another ball through the middle saw Mathieson get in a volley and only an unbelievable point blank save from Rogers saw the ball deflected up and onto the crossbar. Former Dumbarton player Jamsie McNeil then passed up a great chance when he hit the side netting from close range as the home side threatened to over-run Vale.

After 19 minutes they finally got a 2nd goal when a slack clearance was quickly returned through the middle and home striker MACKIN expertly controlled the ball before firing home a low shot on the half volley from the 12 yard mark. Vale reached the break two down but they really never created a solitary chance of note in that forgettable opening period.

With Brian Wardle pushed forward Vale were left in no doubt from boss Hamill what was expected of them in the 2nd period. They at last played with a bit more purpose and grabbed a goal back on the hour mark. McKenzie's long ball up the left saw Ward's initial effort blocked by home keeper McKenna, Wardle's follow up was stopped on the line but fortunately BRYAN BOAL was on hand to smash a left foot shot high into the net from the edge of the area.

Brian Smith should have equalised 5 minutes later when he got on the end of Wardle's flick on but he headed straight at the keeper when he maybe just had time to bring the ball down. With McKernan on for McKenzie Vale continued to press and the home side were reduced to 10 men after 77 minutes when goalscorer Mathieson was despatched after receiving a 2nd caution.

With the minutes ticking away Vales pressure paid dividends when McKernan collected a long ball out on the left and his square pass picked out top scorer HUGH WARD who curled home the equaliser from the edge of the area, his 16th goal of the season.

At the end of the day Vale were happy to have come away with a point but with Kilsyth winning yet again it is becoming increasingly difficult to pip then to the title. Although several players increased their performance levels after the break very few could earn pass marks over the ninety. If a top performer had to be given then Jim Meechan was better than most.

Team: Rogers; Lacy, Wardle, Meechan, Goodwin; Boal, Smith, Alan Brown, King, McKenzie (McKernan); Ward. Unused subs: Maclaurin, Barton, Deeley and Ruane.

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