Vale of Leithen 0

Kelty Hearts 7

David Knox

at Victoria Park

VALE boss Chris Anderson admits he was blown away by Kelty on Saturday as his team continue to search for their first point of the season.

Despite creating a couple of early chances the Innerleithen side were swept aside by Barry Ferguson’s title challengers.

Anderson told us: “Kelty are a very, very good team and more than deserved their win today.

“I’ll be surprised if Kelty don’t go on and win the league – they are really strong all over the park.

“We have a lot of young players and they will learn from games like this.

“Our season won’t be defined by games against Kelty, it is the matches coming up where we need to pick up points and get ourselves away from the bottom.”

In recent seasons Vale have earned a reputation for being a tough nut to crack for some of the Lowland League’s top teams.

And for the opening quarter of an hour on Saturday, as they sat in and hit on the break, it looked as though they could cause Hearts a few problems.

A swift counter attack in the ninth minute led to Calum Hall squaring for Tommy Paterson inside the area, but the lone striker’s shot was blocked in front of goal.

Paterson also shaved the bar with a 25-yard effort five minutes later after intercepting an uncharacteristic loose defensive pass.

But all it took was one mistake in the home defence for Kelty to score.

Paul Thomson’s needles attempted backwards header was collected by Nathan Austin, and the former Inverness striker raced in on goal to pick his spot beyond Andrew McQueen.

Austin turned provider in the 25th minute as his glancing header was slammed into the bottom corner by Stephen Husband.

Austin ran in behind Vale’s defence again in the 34th minute to shimmy past McQueen for the third.

And just before the break Sean McKirdy sent a screamer into the top corner from the edge of the area to make it 4-0.

As in the first half Vale opened brightly, with Hall’s 52nd minute angled effort being denied by the feet of keeper Ben McKenzie.

But normal service was resumed three minutes later as Husband’s deep cross was headed home at the back post by Scott Linton.

With his replacement waiting to come on from the sidelines Austin took advantage of a slip by Ryan Higgins to round McQueen and collect his second hat-trick of the season.

And with 20 minutes remaining Daniel Ashe rose above the Vale defence to head home a corner to make it 7-0.

Vale of Leithen. A McQueen, R Higgins, A Smith, P Thomson, A Imlah (J Wishart 46), G Rossi, C O’Neil (G Nicholson 75), L Hall, C Hall (B Rixon 57), L Smith & T Patterson