Vale of Leithen 0

East Kilbride 3

David Knox

at Victoria Park

BIRTHDAY boy Chris Anderson was presented with some encouragement from his improving players on Saturday.

Despite the defeat against the defending champions the Vale manager applauded his team off the park.

And the newly turned 32-year-old admitted he’s beginning to regain some of the enthusiasm he’s possessed in recent seasons for keeping the Victoria Park team in the Lowland League.

Chris told us: “After the first two games we were not just disappointed by the results but by the way we played.

“We told the players it wasn’t good enough and, while were beaten today, they gave us an awful lot more.

“I can’t complain about anybody’s effort today – we defended well and we created a few good chances.

“The third goal in injury time makes the scoreline look a bit easier than it actually was.”

Kilby piled on the pressure from the kick off, but some resolute defending limited Stuart Malcolm’s team to a few shots from distance during the opening quarter hour.

Despite Graeme Holmes rattling the bar from 20 yards frustration began to creep into the visitors’ play.

And several times Vale caused them problems with balls over the top of the defence.

The nearest the home team came to scoring, though, was a Brad Rixon shot that was comfortably enough saved by Alan Martin.

As the half wore on Kilby increased the pressure.

Ryan Higgins twice made excellent tackles in front of goal and Craig Malcolm should have done better than head a deep cross wide of the far post.

Ruari Paton was threaded through on goal in the 36th minute but a fantastic reaction save by Andrew McQueen denied the former Gala striker.

With just three minutes until the interval, the title holders made the breakthrough.

A Holmes shot was cleared onto his own post by Higgins, only for Malcolm to pounce and blast the rebound into the net.

Vale almost levelled just three minutes after half time as a sweeping counter attack led to Tommy Patterson’s curling, low shot being finger-tipped round the post by Martin.

But just a couple of minutes later Paton headed against the bar at the other end.

And in the 66th minute, while Vale were enjoying their best spell of possession, the Irish striker raced from deep and squared for Malcolm to fire a stunning strike into the top corner.

The home team weren’t giving up the cause at 2-0 down.

Gary Nicholson ran onto a long ball only to shoot tamely from the angle in the 79th minute.

And just three minutes later Rixon also escaped the clutches of the defence to smack the bar with a ferocious shot.

But it was Kilby who were to have the final say with Ross Kavanagh pick-pocketing Higgins on the edge of the area to fire low into the far corner.

Vale of Leithen. A McQueen, C O’Neil, T Patterson (M Underhill 70), R Higgins, P Thomson, A Smith, G Nicholson, L Hall, C Anderson (M Robertson 67), L Ireland & B Rixon