Vale of Leithen 3

Upper Annandale 1

David Knox at Victoria Park

THERE was a huge sigh of relief blowing around Victoria Park on Saturday as Vale grabbed two last-gasp goals to progress in the South Challenge Cup.

Despite languishing towards the bottom of the South of Scotland League, Upper Annandale fought bravely throughout an entertaining cup clash.

And, with a little more composure around the goalmouth, they could have been celebrating a memorable victory over their Lowland League hosts.

But, with two strikes in the final five minutes, it was a below par Vale who will now face Whitehill Welfare in the third round.

Manager Chris Anderson said: “The most important thing is getting through.

“They gave us a physical game and pushed us hard but we did enough in the end to go through.

“The pitch was really sticky which was a bit of a leveller and it was never going to be easy.”

Vale got off to a dream start with Liall Smith’s in-swinging corner evading everyone to nestle in the top corner of the net after just nine minutes.

The home team had other opportunities with Tommy Patterson threading Sean Stewart through, but the striker shaved the bar with his effort.

And another Patterson through ball was smacked against the post by Smith.

But Vale were far from fluent and regularly gave the ball away after being put under pressure by the visitors.

The Uppers thought they’d equalised on the stroke of half time through Haydn Long, but the throw-in that reached him was illegal according to the near assistant Steve Ross.

The Moffat-based side did draw level just after the hour as a corner fell kindly at the back post for Peter Pagan to prod the ball over the line.

It was no more than the visitors had deserved.

But the equaliser sparked Vale to life with visiting keeper Darren Malley twice denying Patterson with good saves before throwing himself in front of an angled Stewart effort.

With six minutes remaining Uppers’ sub Josh Usher intercepted a loose back pass, but his shot was comfortably saved by Ross Gilpin.

And within 90 seconds Gilpin's save was rewarded with Vale’s second goal.

A corner was only cleared as far as Jonny Scott-Mercer, whose volley was saved by Malley, but Alex Imlah was on hand to steer the rebound into the net.

In the first minute of injury time Allan added a third from the penalty spot after Liam Morrison had tripped Stewart inside the area.

Vale of Leithen. R Gilpin, J Scott-Mercer, R Brady, A Imlah, J Blaikie, A Hunter, M Graham, K Allan, S Stewart, T Patterson & L Smith.