Vale of Leithen 1

Upper Annandale 1

David Knox

at Victoria Park

IF manager Chris Anderson learned anything from his team's final warm-up match on Tuesday, it's that shooting practice should dominate training for the next few weeks.

His team controlled this friendly for long periods against the South of Scotland opponents.

But it took a late strike from Tommy Patterson to save the blushes.

Anderson, who had set up the late equaliser with a deft touch, told us: "We were a bit sloppy in front of goal and that's somewhere we'll need to improve.

"It's all very well working hard around the pitch and being well-organised at the back if you can't take your chances when they come.

"Being positive, it was a good work out for the team and it gave us all another 90 minutes to get to know each other."

Some early hesitancy in the home defence almost allowed Marc Leighford to give Upper Annandale a shock opener after three minutes, but Calum O'Neil made a great tackle in front of goal.

Vale began to exert pressure on the visitors' box with some fluent build-up play.

But time and time again the chances were wasted.

Both Patterson and Brad Rixon were denied by keeper Davy Campbell inside the opening quarter hour.

And when Liam Ireland managed to beat the goalie with a delicate chip, Justin Borthwick backtracked in time to clear from the line.

Ryan Higgins, who impressed from full-back, trapped a long ball brilliantly on the run before squaring to Rixon in front of goal, but the striker somehow missed the open target from 10 yards out.

Gary Nicholson almost broke the deadlock on the half hour but his curling effort was pushed round the post by Campbell.

As often happens when chances are missed, the visitors took the lead during a rare attack.

A curling freekick on 38 minutes reached the back post and Higgins inadvertently headed into his own net.

Just a minute or two after taking the lead, Annandale were reduced to 10 men after Leighford barged into the back of Ger Rossi.

Despite the personnel advantage Vale still huffed and puffed around the visitors' area.

The arrival of play-manager Anderson at the interval almost made an immediate impact.

Flowing link-up play between the gaffer, fellow-sub Michael Robertson and Rixon threaded Patterson through on goal, only for the former Gala player to be tackled before he could shoot.

Both Patterson and Ireland fired over after good work from Rixon.

But Annandale still looked dangerous on the break with Ross Gilpin saving well to deny Kyle McAvoy at his near post.

Vale's equaliser arrived in the 85th minute with Anderson rolling back the years to expertly control a long diagonal pass before flicking the ball over his head and into the path of Patterson, who rifled home a terrific low shot.

There was still time for both Rixon and Ireland to hit the woodwork in the closing minutes, but Vale will still have to sharpen up for the Lowland League where the scoring chances will be fewer and much further between.

Vale of Leithen. R Gilpin, R Higgins, C O'Neil, A Smith, P Thomson, G Rossi (M Robertson 46), G Nicholson (C Anderson 46), L Hall, B Rixon, L Ireland & T Patterson.