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Millburn Park, Leven Street, Alexandria, Dunbartonshire
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St Roch's 0-3 Vale of Leven
Vale: Ward 45, D. Meechan 60 & McKernan 89
Man of the Match: Brian Wardle
Saturday 25th January, 2003. Kick off: 2.00pm
Provanmill Park
Abercorn Builders Central District Division 1

Hugh Hamill's side bounced back after the bitter disappointment of Scottish Cup failure to claim all three points at rain lashed Provanmill on Saturday. Whilst the performance was not the finest, the result more than compensated for that as Vale clawed back another three points on league leaders Kilsyth who were also suffering Scottish failure.

Vale made two changes from the side that lost against Renfrew, Matty Maclaurin was making his long awaited comeback in goal for David Rogers and newly signed David Meechan was given a 2nd debut in place of Graeme McKenzie who dropped down to the bench.

With Anton Brown released to rejoin the amateur ranks newly signed youngster Dominic Ruane earned a spot on the bench. The introduction of Meechan meant that surprisingly Vale were adopting a more adventurous line up rather than the lone striker that had been successful over the past few months.

  Matthew Maclaurin
Matthew Maclaurin was
back in goal for Vale
and kept a clean sheet.

The home side who had recorded a hard fought win at Lesmahagow the previous week were by far the better side in the first period as Vale struggled to assert any kind of authority on the game. Too often they were going for the precision pass when the conditions were probably more suited to the long ball. The Glasgow side should have done better than they did after only 12 minutes when a long ball beat the Vale defence who were claiming offside against Reilly. As the referee waved play on Maclaurin came out of his area to force the striker wide and the danger was diverted. Comeback man Meechan showed that he had learned little from his spell in the Super League with a needless booking after 28 minutes. Fortunately for him that was his last misdemeanour of the afternoon.

Two minutes later Vale received a real fright when Ward lost possession as Vale attacked. As the ball was played forward into the Vale box Docherty chested the ball down and his first time volley rebounded from the base of Maclaurin's left hand post. As Vale thought that the danger was cleared Calderwood tried a 45 yard lob that seemed destined for the back of the net until the outstretched fingers of the retreating Maclaurin tipped the ball over the bar.

With the half into injury time Vale edged ahead very much against the run of play. Goodwin's throw found David Meechan on the left and his close control took him to the goal line and from his cut back Wardle's near post effort was blocked on the line but the ball rolled kindly to top scorer Hugh Ward who tapped home his 17th goal of the season.

HALF TIME St.Roch's 0 Vale 1

Vale started the second half in a much more determined fashion and after an hour they added a second goal with a sweet finish. Alan Brown picked out Ward on the left and when he skipped past a couple of tackles his low cross was taken first time by David Meechan on the edge of the area and his well struck shot curled away from the keeper low into the net. Two minutes later Boal was injured as he tried to get on the end of Ward's pass and he went off to be replaced by McKenzie.

With Jim Meechan off receiving treatment the home side had a good chance to get back in the game but substitute Henderson screwed his shot well wide of goal.

Vale were now well on top with Brown running the show in the middle of the park and they almost added a third after 74 minutes. Maclaurin's long kick was helped on by Meechan and Ward's first time effort narrowly missed the target. With 5 minutes remaining Scott McKernan came on for the tiring David Meechan and in the final minute the substitute wrapped up victory with a third goal. Ward was again the creator when he slipped the ball through and from 12 yards McKernan slotted the ball over the diving keeper.

After surviving a difficult opening period Vale can take some credit for their second half showing. Best for Vale were Jim Meechan, Maclaurin, Lacy, Brown and man of the match Brian Wardle.

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