Vale crest Vale of Leven Football & Athletic Club
Millburn Park, Leven Street, Alexandria, Dunbartonshire
Wright Leisure Group
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Vale of Leven 1-4 Greenock
Vale: Wardle 46mins
Greenock: Dow 17 mins, Black 87 & 88 mins, Lappin 89 mins
Man of the Match: Alex Lacy
Monday 14th April, 2003. Kick off: 3.00pm
Millburn Park
Abercorn Builders Central District Division 1

"They thought it's all over, it is now," just about sums up Vale's promotion hopes. Two points from their last four games saw all hope of promotion to the Superleague disappear.

Last Monday's home match against fellow hopefuls Greenock turned out to be a cracker of a match but any fans who left early could hardly believe the result as the visitors grabbed 3 goals in the final 3 minutes after Vale's Ross Hunter was stupidly sent packing after receiving a second caution.

Both sides went into this game knowing that they had to take all three points to have even the slightest of chances of catching faltering Kilsyth.

Vale were forced into two changes from the side that drew at Lanark, Ross Hunter replacing the unavailable Toby King and Graeme McKenzie replacing the injured Leggat.

 

Tom Fox
Tom Fox played
his 100th game
for the Vale.


It was Vale who started the stronger side and they twice passed up great chances in the opening 8 minutes, firstly top scorer Hugh Ward all on his own in front of goal hooked his shot wide of target and then Ross Hunter headed inches wide from McKenzie's cross. Vale captain Alex Lacy came close with a cross that was deflected wide and at the other end Sweeney's shot flashed wide of the far post.

Greenock took the lead after 17 minutes when dangerman John Paul Dow found himself unmarked to receive Sweeney's pass and he slotted the ball into the net behind the diving Rogers from close range.

Vale's responded with a surging run from McKenzie on the left but his mishit shot was well off target. Hunter again came close with another header before an amazing miss robbed Vale of an equaliser. Hunter helped the ball on to Wardle and his rising shot crashed off the underside of the crossbar and rebounded to David Meechan and from point blank range he had his arm raised in celebration but his effort hit the arm of the only defender on the goalline. How the referee failed to spot the hand ball left everyone baffled.

Half Time 0-1

Vale came out for the second period with Wardle pushed forward to assist the ineffective Ward and Meechan and within a minute he had drawn Vale level. Meechan's clever reverse pass let in McKenzie and although Monk in the Greenock goal stopped his effort Brian Wardle followed up to smash the ball high into the net.

The home side were denied a penalty when Ward was pushed to the ground and on the hour mark Greenock were reduced to 10 men when right back Molloy was given a 2nd yellow card. From this point Vale pushed forward at every opportunity and after 63 minutes Wardle found himself in the clear but he rattled the keepers legs with his effort. After 72 minutes Meechan made ground on the left and from his cut back Tom Fox fired in a shot that seemed destined for the net until Monk dived to produce a stunning save. It was virtually one way traffic as Greenock struggled to contain Vale and another surging run saw Lacy control the ball on his chest but his effort was deflected into the side netting.

With 15 minutes remaining Vale too were reduced to 10 men when Ross Hunter, for the umpteenth time, failed to heed the referees warnings and a 2nd caution saw his dismissed.

It seemed that both sides would have to settle for a draw but amazingly the visitors ran out winners after netting three goals in the final 3 minutes. After 87 minutes a low driven free kick fell to substitute Graham Black who looked suspiciously offside and he slammed the ball into the net from close range.

Straight from the kick off Vale gave the ball away and the pacy Black raced clear to slide the ball past the advancing Rogers and into the net.

It got worse for Vale as the side with the best defensive record in the league, until that point, lost a fourth goal. Lappin's low free kick went straight through the Vale defensive wall past a bemused Rogers.

Best for Vale on a forgettable evening were Jim Meechan, Goodwin and man of the match Alex Lacy.


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