Prolific striker Allan McRitchie gave Hermiston Vale some festive cheer with four goals in a 6-2 win over ten-man East Calder United, as Vale recorded another scalp in the East of Scotland Cup third round.
Despite this being their first season in amateur football, Vale look like a team who have played in the Lothian and Edinburgh Amateur Football Association for years. Although this wasn’t vintage Vale, they did enough to end up comfortable victors over Premier 2 side East Calder – who were only able to field ten players.
East Calder’s depleted side looked willing to battle against the odds however, and they went in front after 17 minutes. Out of nothing, Brian McPhillie curled a shot in from wide left, which with the wind behind it, flew over Vale’s goalkeeper Patrick Hutton and into the net.
McRitchie had started on the bench, with Vale’s management team giving the big striker a rest, but he was called into action after Darren Suddaby limped off. The frontman had barely been on the pitch for five minutes before he drew his side level with a neat finish inside the box.
Visitors East Calder were performing admirably and if it hadn’t been for a Hutton stop, they’d have regained their lead. McPhillie was proving to be the dangerman, and he curled a free-kick round the wall on the edge of the box which was heading for the bottom corner, until Hutton clawed it round the post. Vale then took the lead after half an hour, when Jamie Horton teed up strike partner McRitchie with a delightfully floated cross to the back post and Vale’s top scorer headed past Gary Elder.
East Calder should have been level early in the second half though. Vale’s Hutton had advanced from goal to prevent striker Gavin Wood from getting his shot away, and made a good challenge with his feet. However, the ball squirmed out to Craig Cruickshank, who looked like he couldn’t miss when presented with an open goal, but he fired wide.
Buoyed by his Scottish Cup heroics last week, Vale’s left-back Alan Rutherford was eager to get forward when possible. He provided a great assist for Grant Smith on 70 minutes after darting into East Calder’s half, when he slid the ball out to his team-mate who got into the box before shooting across Elder and into the corner.
McRitchie then sealed his hat-trick and put Vale out of sight five minutes later when he slammed in the rebound from Horton’s initial strike and then Horton got his first goal of the season, when he completed a marvelous passing move to make it 5-1.
Lee Cruickshank reduced the deficit with a penalty for East Calder, but McRitchie rounded the scoring from a quick Vale counter attack to set up a last-16 tie away to Stirling & District outfit Sunnyside Thistle.
Meanwhile, Lothian East side Inverleith maintained their impressive recent form with a 4-3 home win over Grangemouth Rovers, in an East of Scotland third-round Scottish Cup tie thriller.
Striker Euan Bell got the Seafield-based outfit off to good start after 30 minutes when he connected with his chest to put the ball into the net amid a goalmouth scramble.
Grangemouth drew level before half-time, but Inverleith got themselves back in front after the break when Mark McGregor’s precise cross from the right-hand side found Dimitri Stevens who finished well. McGregor then put Inverleith two goals to the good with a peach of a strike from the edge of the box which arrowed into the top corner.
Inverleith undid their good work though as Grangemouth went level after two quick-fire goals. However, with just five minutes remaining, Martin Cairney sent in-form Inverleith through to face Falkirk outfit Slamannan. There was no stopping his free-kick, which went in via the post from 35 yards.
Elsewhere, Lochend’s reward for a 2-1 home win over Stirlingshire side Fallin is a tough last-16 East of Scotland tie away to Stenhousemuir Amateurs.
Liam Stewart put the Premier 2 league leaders ahead on 20 minutes with a low strike from 25 yards which Fallin’s goalkeeper should’ve done better with. Lochend went down to ten men though, after Sean Lothian was given a second booking midway through the first half before their hopes were made worse when Fallin equalised on 34 minutes.
The winner came on 40 minutes when Thomas Crease found the net from six yards out, after Kevin Milne had set him up.