Spartans 3, Vale of Leithen 0: Dishington double is crucial

Jamie Dishington rises above Vale's defence to score the opener. Picture: Alistair Linford
Jamie Dishington rises above Vale's defence to score the opener. Picture: Alistair Linford
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A Jamie Dishington brace and a late Craig Stevenson strike was enough to see off Vale of Leithen and send Spartans into the second round of the William Hill Scottish Cup tonight.

The Capital side were simply a cut above their Lowland League rivals and barely broke sweat at Ainslie Park in what was another assured display.

Home boss Dougie Samuel said: “I felt after we scored in the first half we took our foot off the pedal a bit so I think half-time came at a good time for us.

“They defended very well, though, so it’s important to give them credit. We restricted them to shots from distance so we’re delighted to be through to the next round but we can play better.”

Samuel was forced into one change from the side that secured a last-gasp victory over Gretna 2008 in the Lowland League last weekend, captain Michael Herd suffering a knee injury in training this week and being replaced by Jack Nixon.

Blair Atkinson, who spent last season on loan at Vale scoring 19 goals, was the hero against the Borders club six days beforehand and the youngster was inches away from giving the hosts a second-minute lead, his half volley across goal flashing just wide of former Spartans goalkeeper Ross Gilpin’s left-hand post.

Atkinson and Scott Maxwell, in particular, were looking purposeful in the early stages, finding little pockets in and around the visitors’ 18-yard box.

However, Vale were strong in the tackle and the home outfit had to be patient in their build-up. Spartans were enjoying plenty of possession in the Innerleithen side’s half but attempts on goal were at a premium.

The breakthrough finally arrived just before the half-hour mark, though, Maxwell finding room down the left-hand side before delivering a sumptuous cross for Dishington to steer his header in at the near post from eight yards.

Kerr Allan had Vale’s first attempt on goal in the 31st minute, his drive from distance forcing Andrew Stobie into a fingertip save and the former Edinburgh City No.1 had to be alert just seconds later to take the sting out of a Sean Stewart volley.

Ross Allum was unusually quiet during the first 45 but his flick into the path of Dishington five minutes after the restart almost had the No.10 in on goal again, full-back Ross Brady, though, standing his ground well to snuff out any danger.

Centre-half pairing Blair Tolmie and Paul Thomson were limiting Vale strike duo Chris Anderson and Jordan Finnie to very little, the visitors unable to get any foothold in the tie.

And the north Edinburgh club effectively sealed their place in the next round when a wonderful lofted pass from David Greenhill sent Atkinson scampering through on goal midway through the second half. Gilpin initially did brilliantly to deny the youngster and although Ian McFarland’s follow up from the loose ball was blocked, an unmarked Dishington was there to pass the ball into the empty net for his second of the night.

Atkinson came perilously close to getting his name on the scoresheet as Spartans went in search of a third, connecting first time from a McFarland cross only for Gilpin to intervene.

Jay Stevens tried to salvage something for Vale from a set-play 20 yards out but his wild effort over the bar pretty much summed up their lacklustre evening.

To make matters worse, Craig Stevenson showed his opponent just how it’s done from a similar position at the other end, placing a shot around the wall and beyond Gilpin into the bottom corner in the final minute.

Spartans: Stobie, Nixon, Stevenson, Tolmie, Thomson, Greenhill (Brown 75), Atkinson (Khutsishvili 85), McFarland, Allum (Guthrie 66), Dishington, Maxwell. Subs: Carswell, Corbett, Archibald, Wilson.

Vale of Leithen: Gilpin, Scott-Mercer, Brady, Allan, Imlah, Stewart, Smith (Graham 71), Hunter, Anderson, Finnie (Stevens 71), Stevens. Subs: Lewis, Beveridge.