Vale of Leven 1 Forth 1
The Wanderers drew 1-1 with Vale of Leven at Millburn Park yesterday, Chris McGroarty netting the Forth goal. Martin Harty saw red in the first half but ten man Wanderers will feel it was two points dropped as they had the better of the game and played some excellent passing football at times.
Forth unsurprisingly kept faith with the starting eleven which won in Lanark last week and began brightly with only a fanatastic save by home keeper Charles Smith stopping Martin Harty from opening the scoring in the 2nd minute. The move began with good work between McKenzie and Howson, the former playing the ball into the Vale box where an excellent Chris Gordon knock-down set Harty free and the big hitman’s shot looked netbound until the intervention of Smith. Forth were playing some neat passing football at this stage while the Vale were countering by trying to get the ball out to David McNaught on the left. Martin Harty was booked on 12 minutes after a late tackle, a card which took on added significance when the same player received a second yellow for dissent on 38 minutes. Forth continued to press for the opener and a McGroarty shot flew over before a Murphy back header from a McKenzie free kick went just over the bar with Smith rooted to the spot.
Chris McGroarty was pulling the strings for Forth in midfield and fired over when a free kick broke out to him and Craig Crawford was next to go close when he got his head to a McKenzie free kick but the ball went wide. McGroarty then played a neat one two with Howson and drove towards goal but his shot was easily collected by Smith. McNaught then cut in from the left as Vale threatened but the resultant shot was high and wide.
There was some tough tackling going on as both teams fought for supremacy and home debutant Kieran Docherty was forced to go off after 35 minutes with what turned out to be a broken arm – we wish him a speedy recovery. Barry Canning then appeared to be flattened although the referee waved play on, much to the consternation of Martin Harty who received a second yellow after voicing his concerns to the whistler. With Forth down to 10, Vale had an excellent opportunity almost on the whistle but as the forward broke through, David Grant executed a superb last ditch tackle and the danger was cleared. Scoreless at half time then, with Forth having the better of the play and Wanderers keeper Hutchison a virtual spectator.
Undeterred by the numerical disadvantage, the Wanderers began the second half on the front foot and Craig Crawford went close with a dipping free kick from the edge of the D. The same player tested Smith 5 minutes later but his 25 yard shot was easily held. The home side countered through David Telfer, who cleverly cut inside and made space for himself but his final shot was well wide. On the hour mark good work from Chris Gordon setup Gordon Murphy but his final shot was wide. However, the opener was only delayed one minute. Again Gordon did well out on the left and his cross was met by the onrushing Chris McGroarty who dispatched the ball into the corner of the net with the minimum of fuss. Forth continued to cause problems for the Vale defence every time they attacked and another great ball from McGroarty sent Gordon Murphy away but his attempted chip of the keeper went wide.
As the match moved into the final quarter, the home side enjoyed their best spell of the match as they sought to make their one man advantage count. Firstly, Hutchison had to punch away a rasping free kick from Alan Brown, then Mark Bowie skewed a header wide before Hutchison saved well from Gordon Martin. However, the home side were not to be denied and substitute Hugh Ward scored from close range on 80 minutes after the Forth defence failed to clear their lines.
The Wanderers were not happy to settle for a point though and continued to press and the tireless Chris Gordon went close as the match ended with Forth continuing to press for an elusive winner.
More photos from the match can be found here.
Forth team : Hutchison,Howson,S.McQuade,McKenzie,Grant,Canning,Crawford(Misanjo),