A late goal secured a 2-1 home win for Islavale against a battling Deveronside team. Kenny Hendry’s 79th minute top-corner strike made it two and eased the Vale’s nerves. Duncan Philip ground out a well-taken consolation in stoppage time for the visitors but it was too little too late.
The three points for the home side keeps them in the promotion race and a return to the Superleague after four years away. But the visitors will be frustrated at their inability to turn play into goals and have now gone five league matches without a win. Vale started well and within a minute had the Banff sides’ keeper David Muir fumbling a header out for a corner kick. The away side fought back immediately with their first chance coming after four minutes when Adam Innes’ corner was headed over by Les Lobben.
The opening goal came in the 7th minute when Michael Smith struck James Stable’s cross against Muir’s fists and the rebound was met by Hendry to slide it underneath the diving keeper and into the net. Side then pushed forward and for the rest of the first half the ball was more often than not in the Vale half. On the 11th minute Lobben hit a good ball from the sidelines to Robbie King who struck it too high to trouble Blair Moir in goals. All too often they were let down by weak finishing when the home sides’ defence was unfurling. The closest they came to scoring in the first half was after 32 minutes when Legge’s corner was cleared and Philip’s rebound was fired beyond the right post. They squandered several free kicks, which ended up falling to the feet of the home defence.
The home team were pushed back and an easily saved long goal-bound cross by McPherson after half an hour was the best of their opportunities after the opener. Stables was playing well for Vale but his teammates were rarely there to meet his passes up front. With two minutes to half time Vale found themselves a man down as the same man who saw red on Saturday at Inverness had himself sent off again. Graham Shand clumsily went in for the ball with Innes and referee Riddoch decided the home player was at fault and awarded him a straight red card.
The second half started with another Stables cross having no-one to meet and being knocked to safety by Muir. The first clear chance of the half came after 49 minutes when Philip’s angled shot was well saved by Moir. Side’s Ross Thompson replaced Scott Johnston at half time and performed strongly as an attacking force. In 55 minutes he fired a high pass across the face of goal but no-one was there to finish it off. For all they tried it became clear that it may not be Deveronside’s evening even with at this point an extra man.
Thompson again was involved in a chance with 25 minutes to go but his pass to Lobben was headed off Moir and the eventual response was knocked over by Legge. As the away side struggled to find a way through the pressure on Vale eased off. With 20 minutes left, Hendry met Smith’s pass with a scissor kick when clear in the box but his attempt went well to the right of Muir’s goal. With 11 minutes to go a crucial goal ensured Islavale the win. John McLeay’s foul on Kieran Cruickshank awarded the home team a free kick, which Hendry calmly fired into the top left corner. Muir just got a hand to the ball but it wasn’t enough.
The goal deflated a tired Deveronside team who had been looking increasingly out of goalscoring ideas despite their possession. With eight minutes to go Side also found themselves down to ten men, when Davidson went in heavily on Cruickshank near the Vale corner and Riddoch gave him a straight sending off. Keen crosser Stables went off for Scott Miller with five minutes to go. The substitute thought he had made it three when he launched a close-range shot over the keeper but it was called offside.
In the first minute of injury time Side got a goal back when Philip scored from the left-side of the corner box.But they weren’t to get an equaliser as Milne’s low shot was saved comfortably in the last-minute of added time. A good win for Islavale in the promotion chase but Deveronside will be rueing a lack of clinical finishing in a game that for long periods they were stronger in.
Islavale: Moir, Winton, A. McPherson, MacKay, Hector, Shand, Cruickshank, Stewart, Hendry, Smith (Widdrington 89), Stables (Miller 85).
Subs not used: R. McPherson, Makie, Mich. Smith
Deveronside: Muir, Johnston (Thompson 45), Milne, McLeay (Leslie 85), Gray, Legge, Davidson, King, Innes, Lobben, Philip.
Subs not used: Thomson, Murdo, Forbes
Referee: R. Riddoch
Written by Paul Laing | TheJuniors.info