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Millburn Park, Leven Street, Alexandria, Dunbartonshire
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Lesmahagow 1-1 Vale of Leven
Lesmahagow: Brown 55 mins
Vale: Ward 9 mins (pen)
Man of the Match: Alex Lacy
Saturday 5th April, 2003. Kick off: 3.00pm
Craighead Park
Abercorn Builders Central District Division 1

Vale lost ground on league leaders Kilsyth Rangers after only managing a draw at Craighead Park on Saturday. After the highs of the previous week's win it was a major disappointment that Hugh Hamill's men failed to take all 3 points from a side in danger of relegation to the bottom division for the first time ever.

Again Vale paid the price for failing to capitalise on their first half superiority and having lost an equaliser at the start of the second half, as well as the dismissal of keeper Davie Rogers, Vale's remaining 10 battlers deserve great credit for not caving in as once again the major topic of discussion was the inept performance from the match referee.

Vale's plans to field the same starting eleven as last week received a blow during the pre match warm up when the influential Jim Meechan was ruled out with a calf knock that saw Tom Fox start his first game since his return from Australia with captain Alex Lacy moving to sweeper.


Alex Lacy
Man of the match
Alex Lacy

Vale started brightly and after only 5 minutes youngster Dom Ruane shot narrowly wide. After only 9 minutes Vale took the lead after "Gow" failed to clear a couple of dangerous corners and at the second one a defender appeared to handle in the box and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Top scorer Hugh Ward drilled the kick low into the net for his 21st goal of the season.

The home side then had a 15 minute period where they dominated before Vale regained a grip on the game. In that period Ward shot wide, Ruane headed down and into the arms of the keeper, Wardle headed narrowly wide and McKernan's lob beat the keeper but was just inches too high to give Vale a healthier half time lead.

Half Time 0-1

Vale should have gone further ahead minutes into the 2nd half when Ward's clever back heel left McKernan with only the keeper to beat but his 12 yard effort clipped the outside of the post.

The home side threw on player boss Sandy Ross and the veteran striker was the man who inspired his side's fight back as he used all his experience to upset the Vale rearguard. In the 55th minute they drew level when a long throw down the infamous hill was half punched clear by Rogers only for Ross to head goalward and although his effort was headed off the line by Ruane the ball fell kindly to Brown and his half hit volley from 12 yards found its way threw a packed goalmouth and into the net.

Two minutes later Vale were down to 10 men when Glasgow, at least 2 yards offside, was allowed to run clear on the left and keeper Rogers came charging out of his area to bring down the attacker when it seemed that Lacy would get back to clear. The keeper was promptly shown the red card with Dom Ruane making way for substitute keeper Matty Maclaurin who comfortably dealt with the free kick.

Vale then sent on David Meechan for McKernan and they could have lost a goal when McCabe just failed to connect properly with a dangerous cross from the right. Gradually Vale fought their way back into the game and Ward and Meechan both came close before Meechan appeared to be bundled over in the area with the referee waving aside Vale's strong appeals for another penalty. With 9 minutes remaining "Gows" McDade received a 2nd caution for a challenge from behind on Meechan and with equality of numbers restored there was no way Vale were going to relinquish a further point.

Best for Vale were the impressive Alan Brown, the entire defence including man of the match Alex Lacy.

Vale would like to thank KAREN McCARTHY of the CENTRAL BAR in Renton for sponsoring a new set of training balls for the team.

Team: Rogers; Fox, Wardle, Lacy, Goodwin; Ruane (Maclaurin), Hunter, Brown, McKenzie; McKernan (D. Meechan), Ward. Unused Subs: Mulholland & J. Meechan.
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