New Vale of Leithen boss Michael Wilson makes bold relegation statement after club concedes 149 goals

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Conceding 149 goals in 29 league games ensures Vale of Leithen are firm relegation favourites in the Lowland League.

New head coach Michael Wilson isn’t so sure, however. He left local rivals Peebles Rovers earlier this month to accept the daunting task of keeping the Vale up. People will scoff but he is determined to rally, reorganise and reignite the fire at Victoria Park.

The Borders side have amassed just five points from those 29 matches and sit bottom of the table with a goal difference of minus 139. They are currently playing League Cup section matches and Wilson’s methods appear to be working.

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His first game in charge brought a 0-0 draw with Gala Fairydean Rovers before last week’s narrow 1-0 loss against Berwick Rangers. For context, last month Berwick annihilated The Vale 9-0 in Innerleithen. Wilson is striving to inject positivity and take the club on an upward trajectory.

Michael Wilson is the new Vale of Leithen head coach.Michael Wilson is the new Vale of Leithen head coach.
Michael Wilson is the new Vale of Leithen head coach.

“The plan is to stay up,” he said. “I know folk have laughed at me and will continue to laugh at me, but I firmly believe the boys can do it. Everything is positive and the past is in the past.

“I was told it was a free hit when I came in but that’s not the way I work. I want to go in and actually make an impact. We’ve only lost one goal in two games, whereas in the league we’ve lost 149 goals in 29 games, which is scandalous.

“The club have backed me with a bit of money to stay up. I used to wonder what was going on when I saw their results but they just needed stability. Grant Sandison, my predecessor, installed that initially and I’m trying to bring in a more defensive mindset. The boys have reacted really well so far.

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“We’ve brought Kirk Crichton and Ross McLaren in as coaches. We drew 0-0 at home with Gala in my first game and I was told that was the club’s first result of any kind at home since 2019.

“Then we played Berwick and to be honest I was dreading it. I was looking at their teamsheet – Alex Harris, Conrad Balatoni, Lewis Allan. Tam Scobbie was there although he wasn’t playing. They are spending a lot of money on some top players.

“Vale’s last two results against Berwick were 9-0 and 11-0 defeats. The 9-0 was only last month, yet it took a worldie of a free-kick from 30 yards for them to beat us on Saturday. A couple of Berwick supporters came up at the end and complimented the team’s performance.

“We had two new players on Saturday and another six in at training. We’re trying to build things but I also want to make an impact now.”

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Wilson admitted leaving Peebles was a wrench as he explained the reasons behind his departure. “I’ve got a lot of time for Peebles, especially [chairman] Colin Madonald and [vice-chairman] Dave Lamb. They backed me getting boys in. We got a settled team and went nine games unbeaten at one point before suspensions and injuries.

“I felt I’d taken them as far as I could. It was like one big family and it wasn’t easy to leave. I feel this is a step up so it was a move I had to take.”

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