Forth 2 Vale of Leven 1
Goals from Chris Lennon and John Watson gave the Wanderers a vital victory in a tough encounter with Vale of Leven at Kingshill Park this afternoon. The Wanderers withstood an early barrage from the Vale to record their fifth straight victory and continue their promotion push.
The Wanderers made one change from the Blantyre Vics game, John Watson coming in for the unavailable Jamie Lindsay, but it was the visitors who started the brighter and could have been ahead with barely a minute on the clock.A corner from the left evaded the Forth defence and fell to Scott Arthur who fired over from close range.
Lee McGeachy was prominent for the visitors down the left wing as they continued to take the game to Forth. Their next chance fell to James Crowhurst but he couldn’t get a clean connection on the ball and Hutchison easily gathered on 10 minutes. Three minutes later they came even closer when a thundering 25 yard drive from Alan Brown crashed off the underside of the bar and was gathered by a relieved Hutchison.
Having weathered the early storm, Forth began to play their way into the game and looked to have strong claims for a penalty after 16 minutes when Barry Canning appeared to be tripped by Brian Wardle, but the referee waved away the strong Wanderers appeals. Two minutes later Charles Smith in the Vale goal saved comfortably from Chris Lennon, but he could do nothing when the same player opened the scoring on 28 minutes. Andrew Gilchrist gathered the ball on the right and headed toward the box, before picking out Lennon with a perfectly weighted pass and the Wanderers top scorer controlled the ball before expertly volleying past Smith.
Lennon had a great chance to make it two on 35 minutes when he latched on to a Barry Canning through ball but although he managed to round the keeper, he fired high and wide. Forth continued to press and a fine piece of football involving John Watson,Andrew Gilchrist and Tony Traynor ended with the latter shooting straight at Smith from a good position inside the box.
The Vale were never out the game however and Scott Arthur fired narrowly over before Alan Brown should have equalised on 40 minutes. A good move down the left wing saw the ball played to Brown in space but the Vale man sliced wide with the goal at his mercy. Undaunted, the visitors made amends with their next attack. Lee McGeachy received the ball on the left before deceiving John Watson and firing a low shot across the goal and into the far corner after 43 minutes. A deserved equaliser on the balance of play, which saw the sides level at the interval.
The first chance of the second half didn’t arrive until 54 minutes when Hutchison in the Forth goal comfortably saved from Alan Brown. Forth then forced successive corners as they sought to regain the advantage, but it was from a free kick that the second and decisive goal arrived on 68 minutes. Andrew Gilchrist’s flighted ball into the box was met by the head of Jordan Smith and although keeper Smith did well to block the stoppers effort, John Watson was on hand to lash home the rebound from a couple of yards.
The Wanderers then went in search of a killer third goal and Gilchrist fired narrowly over before Smith held a Watson effort. Vale captain Alex Lacy then almost diverted a Marc Howson cross into his own net, undoubtedly relieved to see the ball flash past the wrong side of the post and out for a corner. David Grant connected with the corner kick but headed narrowly over and repeated the feat minutes later when meeting another corner.
Having failed to kill off the game, Forth were susceptible to a quick Vale counter and so it proved on 87 minutes, when their promotion hopes were almost dealt a fatal blow. Vale substitute Gordon Martin collected the ball and neatly made space for himself but, with the goal gaping, he sliced the ball horribly wide, much to the relief of the Forth support whose relief was palpable. A nervy four minutes of injury time were endured but the Wanderers held on for another vital victory.
A hard fought win in the same vein as Blantyre Vics last week and although promotion is still not in our own hands, it looks as if a final four victories will be required to give us a fighting chance. These crucial games begin away to Newmains next week.
‘Mon the Forth.
Forth team : Hutchison,Corbett(Howson),McQuade(McLean),Smith,Grant,Canning,Traynor,Watson(Felvus),