Kelty Hearts 0

Vale of Leithen 0

David Morrison

at New Central Park

I'M sure Vale manager Chris Anderson must have been fearing the worst during the trip to Fife on Saturday.

Almost half of his squad was missing due to illness, injuries and suspensions.

Before the team bus had reached the Forth Road Bridge it would have become apparent that both he and his coaching assistant Ger Rossi would have to make rare starts.

When you consider Barry Fergusson's Kelty Hearts are packed with quality and challenging for the title, anyone would have forgiven Anderson for plotting a day of damage limitation.

But the spirit the former Dunfermline and Berwick Rangers striker has installed in his players made sure they were up for a fight.

And for 90 minutes they battled for every ball - denying Kelty a much-needed three points.

Anderson told us: "It was a day for rolling up the sleeves and having a go.

"There are a lot of good players at Kelty Hearts but we matched them and even when they did manage to get a few shots on target Ross (Gilpin) was equal to them."

A crowd of 369 packed into New Central Park - almost all of them expecting a pre-Christmas goalfest.

But Vale's experienced midfield of Ainslie Hunter and Rossi held their own during an arm-wrestle of a first half.

There were claims for a home penalty approaching the half hour as Scott Dalziel took a tumble but the protests were waved away.

And the few crosses swung in from Elliot Ford were dealt with comfortably by Craig McBride and James Elliot.

Apart from a few Brad Rixon runs Vale had created little themselves.

Kelty went close twice at the start of the second half with Shaun Greig testing Gilpin with a shot before heading a few inches over.

Ross Mutch was denied by another fantastic save from Gilpin in the 70th minute.

And a short time later he managed to get a hand to prevent Scott Taylor-Mackenzie's freekick reaching the net.

Vale had defended admirably and in the closing stages could have snatched all three points as Anderson's ambitious attempt from the half way line, with Scott Christie off his line, sailed inches over the bar.

But in the end it was Vale who left the park happiest having secured the unlikeliest of points.

Vale of Leithen. R Gilpin, K Allan, R Brady, J Elliot, C McBride, G Rossi, A Hunter, L Smith, B Rixon, C Anderson & L Ireland.