Vale of Leithen 1
Spartans had to draw on all their strengths to score two stoppage-time goals, the winner coming from Chris Anderson in the fourth minute of time added on, to edge the Ainslie Park outfit to a narrow 2-1 victory against a Vale of Leithen side who looked as if they were going to upset the odds and hang on for a win.
Vale led 1-0 going into overtime when half-time substitute Andy Martin, a former Vale player, knocked home the equaliser. Then in the 94th minute Anderson latched on to a through ball to score the winner with an angular drive from 12 yards.
And matchwinner Anderson admitted afterwards: “We did leave it late and we had to work hard for the win but we persevered and I think that we got what we deserved in the end.
“It was a good pass from Jack Beesley and basically all I had to do was put my foot through the ball and luckily for me it went in.”
Spartans kicked off knowing that a win would progress them to the quarter-final stages of the East of Scotland Qualifying League Cup while Vale were ravaged by unavailability and manager Fraser Ogilvie had to list himself as a substitute.
There was nothing to choose between the teams in the opening quarter with neither goalkeeper called into action although Vale’s Wayne Sproule hit a shot wide of the target and Spartans’ John Grant’s cross was inches from Jordan Finnie in the six yard box. Finnie also had a shot on the turn which bounced past the far post.
The game finally sprung to life on the half hour mark when Stephen Sproule scampered into the Spartans penalty box where he was brought down on the right edge by Donal Henretty. Sproule’s brother, Wayne, made no mistake as he slotted the resultant spot kick behind Chris Flockhart.
After the interval, whatever the players from both sides had in their half-time refreshments, appeared to make them hyper-active as there was a spate of 12 yellow cards issued for innocuous, but technically correct, offences.
Keith McLeod was sent through by Mark Whatley but his shot was well saved by Sinclair Inglis in the Vale goal. Vale looked as if they would record an impressive away victory until, with the 90 minutes gone, substitute Anderson rushed into the penalty box with the ball which eventually fell to Martin who hit a powerful shot into the net from twelve yards.
Four minutes later, with Vale on the attack, their move broke down and in a breakaway Beesley fed Anderson and he fairly hammered a low shot behind Inglis for that dramatic late winner.
“It’s an understatement to say that we left it very late,” said Spartans’ assistant manager, Neil Irvine. “In the first half there was not much separating the teams and Vale probably deserved their lead although we always felt that we would be able to change things. Towards the end it was a mixture of Vale tiring and us getting that bit of quality in the final third.”
Fraser Ogilvie, the Vale manager, said: “I thought that we were excellent in the first half but I felt that in the second half we sat in a bit but when you are tired that’s what happens in football. Overall, I was delighted with the attitude and commitment of all of our players.”
Spartans: Flockhart, Cennerrazzo, Henretty (Martin 46), Sivewright, MacKinnon, Manson, Whatley, Grant, Finnie (Anderson 60), McLeod (Wringe 75), Beesley. Subs: McCuish, O’Donnell.
Vale of Leithen: S Inglis, S Sproule, Draper, McKenzie (J Paterson 76), Blaickie, K Paterson, W Sproule, Dodds, Moffat, Noon, C Inglis. Sub: Ogilvie.