Whitehill Welfare and Vale of Leithen couldn’t be separated as they played out a rather uninspiring draw.
The visitors are likely to be the most content with the single point which stretches their unbeaten run to six games and positions them at the top of the Lowland League – an observation Whitehill manager Mike Lawson made in the aftermath in what was a lacklustre display from the home side.
“It’s a far better point for the Vale than it is for us,” Lawson said. “I’m more disappointed with the performance and dropping two points in a match that I don’t think either goalkeeper had a save to make.
The hosts did start the brighter as Andrew Kidd’s long ball over the Vale defence picked out striker Daniel Noon, but despite getting the ball under control to shape himself for the shot, his effort was tame and straight into the arms of Vale’s Graham O’Brien.
Wayne Sproule’s surging run from just inside the opposition’s half was brought to an abrupt end on the edge of the penalty area, but referee Mike Taylor waved play on as the Whitehill players protested. However, the home side’s early pressure was rewarded after 13 minutes when winger Steven Manson played a clever one-two with Christopher Dolan, and from the edge of the area, his cross-cum-shot shot looped over O’Brien and into the top left corner of the net to put Whitehill in the ascendency.
Vale mustered their first attempt on goal after 22 minutes when a neat move opened up the home rearguard, but Scott McCulloch couldn’t keep his shot under the crossbar.
Ross Aitchison tried his luck from distance for the visitors but his shot was well wide of the target before Vale had a shout for a penalty just after the half-hour mark.
A breakdown in communication between John Hall and his goalkeeper, Ryan McGurk, allowed striker Scott Gormley with the chance to nip in front of the pair as both waited on one another to clear the ball, a hesitance that led to Hall completely shoulder barging Gormley with no intention of playing the ball, but once again referee Taylor wasn’t interested. Vale did salvage their equaliser three minutes before the break however. A long ball was controlled by Gormley 25 yards from goal, and he threaded his pass through the heart of the Whitehill defence to the onrushing Danny Rennie, who took one touch before slotting the ball beyond McGurk and into the bottom left corner.
With both sides returning to the field after the interval looking to take maximum points, the second half promised to be an entertaining 45 minutes. However, this, disappointingly, failed to materialise as both sides struggled to find any fluency in their play with neither goalkeeper having to make any real contribution whatsoever.
Vale of Leithen manager, Chic McAleavy, was the more content at full-time taking a point back to the Borders which keeps his side remaining as the only undefeated team in the league. He said: “We were a bit ragged in the first 20 minutes but we got ourselves back into the game. It’s a good result for us and probably a fair result at that. It was far from a great game as I think the two sides just cancelled each other out.”
Whitehill Welfare: McGurk, Hall, Thom, Bruce, Dolan, Dodds, Manson, Kidd, McIntosh, Noon (Somerville 62), Sproule (Finnie 65). Subs: Robertson, Shearer, Young.
Vale of Leithen: O’Brien, Moffat, McAleavy, Young, Aird, R Aitchison, Brigain, McCulloch, Gormley (Mearns 82), Kerr, Rennie. Subs: T Aitchison, Ogilvie, Callan.