Heriot Vale leave it late to see off The Spartans

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Late goals from Willie Mitchell and substitute Alan Sheriff gave Heriot Vale passage to the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup as they won 3-1 against The Spartans.

Windy conditions at Broughton High School 3G made the game rather scrappy in the opening exchanges, with both LEAFA Premier 1 sides finding it difficult to get into any rhythm.

Vale’s Michael South had the first chance of the game after 13 minutes, dragging his low shot just wide of the post from inside the box. Shortly after, Adam Robertson tested the palms of Spartans No.1 William Turner with an effort on the right side of the danger area.

Home goalkeeper Sam Gibson was brought into action himself at the other end when a ball from Spartans’ James Kettlewell on the left found Greg Atkinson, whose close-range effort was parried away instinctively by Gibson for a corner.

Vale were frustrated in front of goal by Spartans in the first half but it didn’t take long for the hosts to break them down in the second period. With five minutes played – and having collected a pass from the left – Vale’s midfielder Robertson bulleted home a rocket into the top corner leaving opposition keeper Turner rooted to the spot.

Favourites Vale dominated the next section of the cup tie without adding to their lead and they were made to pay in the 70th minute. The ball was delivered into the box from the right wing and despite a Spartans player being unable to reach it, the ball deflected off Vale defender Stuart Johnston and into the net for the 
equaliser.

The match then became more open as both sides were inspired for different reasons. With five minutes left to play, Vale were back in front with a crucial goal. Mitchell’s turn-and-shot found its way through a crowded penalty area for 2-1.

Substitute Sheriff made sure of the victory two minutes later when he lobbed Turner from around 20 yards, the ball hitting the crossbar before falling in.

Coulter hits hat-trick

Bathgate THISTLE marched on to the last eight of the Challenge Cup with a 3-2 win at Cramond thanks to a second-half hat-trick from makeshift right-back Stephen Coulter.

Cramond started the brighter, with most of the possession and opened the scoring through Steven Christie. John Paul McLennan’s great delivery found Christie at the back post and he nodded home.

The home side doubled their advantage not long after. Ryan Stewart’s in-swinging cross landed at Kevin Walker, who made no mistake finding the net with his half-volley into the bottom corner.

McLennan was given his marching orders for Cramond and that’s where it all went wrong for them. Bathgate pressed on and versatile Coulter notched the first after the hour mark.

A 25-yard free kick was curled round the wall and into the bottom right-hand corner. Coulter then got Bathgate on level terms, Glen McMahon’s long free-kick being headed across goal by Scott Nisbet before Coulter’s own header from six yards.

A Cramond handball gave Bathgate the opportunity to win the game in added time and Coulter stepped up to convert low into the back of the net to finish the game at 3-2.

Blackrigde into semis

Blackridge Vale of Craig reached the Ian McDonald Cup semi-finals as they overcame fellow Lothian West outfit North Edinburgh Wanderers 4-2.

The Wanderers who took the lead in the first. A goal-kick from centre back Craig Darge travelled all the way up field to striker Dale Robertson, who lobbed the goalkeeper as the Blackridge defenders were caught off-guard.

Blackridge hit back, finding an equaliser through Ryan Donnelly and then taking the lead through Liam Healy’s fine solo effort.

Keiran Bryce then beat Wanderers’ offside trap to slot the ball away for 3-1 just before the half-time whistle.

Wanderers came out fighting in the second half and got back into the game with a second goal.

Left back Danny Kay crossed to goalscorer Robertson, the striker back-heeling the ball to David McLeod, who took it past a defender and found the net with his left foot with 20 minutes on the clock.

With the game tight, two minutes remained and Blackridge made sure of the cup victory with substitute Lenny Vanuill’s goal.

Blackridge’s James Main said: “I’m glad to be through to the semi-final, but full credit to North Edinburgh Wanderers for a gutsy second-half 
performance.”