Vale of Leven 4 Forth 1
The Wanderers four match winning run came to a shuddering halt at Milburn Park yesterday as they lost 4-1 to Vale of Leven, in a game in which they never really got going.
Vale could have been ahead within a minute of the start, only a last ditch Gary McMullen tackle preventing Scott Arthur from getting away his shot whilst in a great position. Sean Stewart was next to try his luck meeting a headed clearance from a corner on the volley but he fired wide. Forth keeper David Cherrie then saved from Arthur at the expense of a corner as the hosts continued their blistering start. Craig Cowan met the corner on the volley but the ball was cleared from the line for yet another corner. Cherrie then turned over a header from Kenneth Wilson in the sixth minute as the onslaught continued.
Forth countered when Willie McLaren sent Tony Traynor scampering through but a defender read the danger and turned the ball out for a corner. Another excellent McLaren through ball after 10 minutes saw Stevie Kane through one on one with home keeper Scott Morrison but the Forth striker seemed to be in two minds and shot straight at the Vale custodian. Barry McGeechan then played Traynor down the wing and his cross was met by McLaren at the back post but he didn’t catch it sweetly and the ball flew harmlessly wide.
Vale took the lead on 15 minutes when a short corner to Mark Pawsey saw him flight a ball to the back post where Sean Stewart ghosted in to head home. Stewart should have doubled the home advantage 5 minutes later when sent clear by Josh Grace but his shot was just the wrong side of the post. McLaren fired a free kick over for the Wanderers before sending over an inviting cross which found no takers and then saw a volley blocked as Forth looked for a way back into the game but half time arrived with the hosts good value for their one goal lead.
The Wanderers began the second half positively, forcing a succession of corners and came close when a great Warren Grenfell through ball on 49 minutes saw McLaren racing in on goal only to see his shot hit the side net. Forth then had strong penalty appeals for handball waved away by the referee as they continued to press, but despite a string of further corners the Vale defence held firm.
Vale hadn’t been seen as an attacking force in the 2nd half but when they did attack after 55 minutes they made it count. A quick counter following a Forth attack saw Pawsey play in Cowan and he made no mistake to double the home advantage. Forth redoubled their efforts and a surging McLaren run saw his final shot deflected for a corner, then a dangerous John Rennie thunderbolt poleaxed Stevie Kane as it headed toward goal. McLaren then swung in an inviting cross but there was no-one at the back post to take advantage.
Vale were content to sit in and hit on the break and they did that to great advantage after 63 minutes when Josh Grace followed up to bundle the ball home after Cherrie had saved the initial shot. A hammer blow to Forth but to their credit they continued to press, Lachlan Tait heading over a corner before Morrison comfortably held a powerful McLaren drive. The Wanderers finally reduced the deficit when a McLaren through ball picked out substitute Taylor Scott and the young striker took a touch before firing the ball home off the post. Scott looked to have reduced the deficit further barely a minute later but he was adjudged to be offside, a marginal decision at best.
Pawsey sent a volley wide for the hosts before a superb individual goal from Stewart sealed the points for the hosts. Picking the ball up in his own half, he skipped past a couple of challenges before cutting inside and firing home. McLaren fired a free kick wide and McGeechan shot over as Forth looked for a consolation and only a block on the line from Robert McKenzie stopped McLaren from doing so in the final seconds.
A flat performance from Forth on the whole, although to their credit they continued to press until the final whistle and didn’t let the heads go down. Another stern test awaits on Saturday as promotion rivals Gartcairn come calling and the Wanderers will need to be at their best to take anything from the game.
Forth team : Cherrie,Corbett(K.Dick),L.Tait,S.Tait,McMullen,Grenfell,Kane(Harty),