Vale of Leithen 0-4 East Kilbride

By Callum Hodgson at Victoria Park

VALE of Leithen faced their toughest test of the season on Saturday when they welcomed reigning champions East Kilbride to Victoria Park.

Goals from Aidan Ferris, Ross McNeil, Liam Coogans and Barry Russell ensured Billy Stark’s side claimed all three points on the day, but it certainly wasn’t as easy as the score line suggests.

Vale gaffer Chris Anderson (pictured) told us: “I thought the performance was really good. We were depleted before we started because we’re missing a lot of players, but I thought we did really well.

“We conceded a sloppy goal which shifted the balance of the game before half time, but overall, I can’t fault the work rate and the performance.

“East Kilbride are a really good side, they’re really experienced and are obviously champions as well, so we expected a tough game against them.”

Vale started the game the brightest with Jack Hay causing the Kilby back line problems.

But the visitors did grow into the game and could have taken the lead on 27 minutes, but Ferris saw his shot denied by Ross Gilpin’s legs.

The opener did come five minutes later. Adam Strachan whipped in a ball from the left and Ferris tapped in with ease.

And they doubled their advantage just minutes before the interval.

The Vale stopper came out to clear a ball, but couldn’t get to it, leaving McNeil with the relatively easy task to slot the ball in the right-hand corner.

The home side came out strong in the second half. Thomas Patterson took on Scott Stevenson and drilled a shot at goal, but his effort was impressively palmed away by Jacob Kean.

East Kilbride then went straight up the other end but McNeil was denied a second by a fingertip save from Gilpin.

On 67 minutes it was 3-0. Strachan again hit the ball in from the left, Vale couldn’t clear allowing substitute Liam Coogans to blast in from close range.

Despite missing some key players, Vale battled throughout the afternoon and played some good football at times.

But it was Kilby’s day. On 85 minutes Martin McBride delivered a dangerous free kick into the penalty area which fell to Russell who was unmarked at the back post. He made no mistake and helped ensure the visitors picked up all three points.

Vale of Leithen: R Gilpin, J Scott Mercer, R Brady, K Allan (N Docherty 35), R Manson, A Hunter, S Stewart, J McInallly (A Lewis 71), J Hay, J Finnie, T Patterson.