Vale of Leithen 0

East Kilbride 1

David Knox

At Victoria Park

DURING the opening exchanges at Victoria Park the vociferous away support were berating Vale for what they considered to be time wasting.

Yet, as 90 minutes was reached on the clock those same supporters as well as the East Kilbride bench were bemoaning the referee for adding time on.

That in itself was testament to the second-half fightback by the injury-ravaged team who sit third-bottom.

Kilby, who are eight points clear at the top of the table, must have expected a routine victory when they arrived at Victoria Park to face a makeshift Vale.

And it was all going to plan when Craig Malcolm headed them in front early on.

But ultimately they were lucky to leave Innerleithen with the points after a fantastic second-half rally by the hosts.

Vale boss Chris Anderson, who was forced to play the entire 90 minutes due to injuries, told us: “There were lots of positives from a game against a really good team who aren’t at the top of the league for no reason.

“Every single Vale player can hold their head high as we were really unlucky not to get anything from the game.

“We contained them fairly well in the first half and when we opened up and had a go in the second half we could easily have scored a goal or two.”

East Kilbride could have been two up before they eventually took the lead with Malcom’s 16th minute header.

Michael Anderson had clattered the bar with a 25-yard effort and Cameron Russell drilled a low-shot inches wide of the far post.

Vale’s defence was exposed just after the quarter hour as Chris Humphrey picked out the striker with a neat cross.

Only a goalline clearance from Craig McBride prevented Paul Woods doubling the lead on the half hour.

And Ross Gilpin did well to push a Woods shot round the post just before the break.

Vale hadn’t registered a single shot on goal during the first half.

But that was all to change after the interval.

Matthew McGinley made a terrific save to finger-tip Jack Blaikie’s powerful freekick out for a corner.

And the Kilby stopper also did well to snatch Brad Rixon’s glancing header out of the air.

The leaders still posed a threat with Malcolm lobbing just wide and Gilpin reacting well to get his hand to Bernard Coll’s angled drive.

But it was Vale who looked the most likely as the half wore on – and only a last-gasp tackle by Woods prevented the energetic Marc Berry latching onto a cross in front of goal.

The arrival of Sean Stewart, who’d been suffering from tonsillitis all week, gave the home team even more energy up front.

And with eight minutes remaining Stewart’s pressure led to Berry smashing a 25 yard volley against the post.

In the end Kilby held on for the win to maintain their cushion at the top – but only just.

Vale of Leithen. R Gilpin, C O’Neil, K Boyes, C McBride, J Blaikie, G Rossi, L Smith, M Berry, C Anderson, B Rixon (S Stewart 67) & L Ireland.