STAR DOMINATE BUT POINTS ARE SHARED
By David McDonald
Star’s disappointing league campaign ended with them sharing the points with a dogged Vale of Leithen, despite dominating the vast majority of the match.
The Scottish climate can be strange at the best of times and just a week after suffering the Baltic conditions of Galashiels, it was a tropical, sun kissed Islecroft that welcomed the supporters. Unfortunately there is always a downside to this fine weather, and yes, Dinger had his vest on. The Innerleithen side has been struggling with player numbers recently and they arrived in Dalbeattie with just eleven players, but at least keeper Ross Gilpin was available to play this week which meant manager Chris Anderson would play in midfield and not in goal as he did last week.
For a so called meaningless end of season match, there was enough needle in the game to keep the fans entertained and both sets of players went all out to win the match and not simply go through the motions. Knowing they had no substitutes, the visitors had to pace themselves throughout the whole match but the home side dominated possession. They opened the scoring in the 15th minute with a good move down the left that ended with Scott Milligan
’s square pass finding full-back Ross Green
at the edge of the six yard box and he managed to flick the ball past Gilpin and it trundled into the far corner of the net.
The home side looked in control but were unable to add a second and just after the half hour Liam Ireland collected the ball some 25 yards and beat Star trialist keeper, Taylor Hall, with a superb curling effort that gave the keeper no chance whatsoever. This was a crucial strike for the visitors and gave them something to hang onto the whole afternoon. Star almost regained the lead within two minutes when Ben Irving
capitalised on a defensive error and charged into the penalty area but unfortunately his shot smacked off the far post and the rebound fell kindly for Vale and the ball was cleared. Five minutes later Liam Park
burst clear but this time it was keeper Gilpin who came to his sides rescue as he saved with his legs.
The second half had the same pattern as the first and Gilpin saved another one on one, this time denying Irving from close range. On the hour Ireland called Star’s trialist keeper into action forcing him into a decent save but most of the action was at the other end. Star kept their patience rather than just lump the ball into the penalty area and hope for the best, but the Vale defence was resolute and the home side struggled to break them down in the final third. Milligan tried his luck from distance but his superb strike struck the top of the crossbar with Gilpin well beaten. With time running out Lee Wells
’ driven cross was just inches away from Curtiss Wilson
in the centre but as Star piled men forward they were almost caught by a sucker punch. However Aiden Kerr
raced back and made a match saving tackle as a Vale forward raced clear and it received a louder cheer than Ross Green
Both sides had big chances in stoppage time. Firstly the home side went close when Lewis Sloan
’s corner was headed back across goal by Wells where Ross Thomson
outjumped the Vale defence but at full stretch his header was just inches over the top. With just seconds left Ireland beat the offside trap and he tried to beat the Star keeper by dinking the ball over him but he made a bit of a mess of it and Hall made an easy save. In the end the points were shared but at least Star knew beforehand their Lowland League status was safe and plans can now begin to prepare for a vital season that will begin in three months. There is still a League Cup campaign that kicks off next week to look forward to, and any success in it will be a bonus.
DALBEATTIE STAR 1 VALE OF LEITHEN 1
Green (15) Ireland (31)
DALBEATTIE STAR: Hall, Wilson, Green (A Kerr 78), Wells, Thomson, Cameron, Park, Cowie, Irving, Miliigan, O’Sullivan (Sloan 66)
Subs not used: McConaghie, Pipe, Maxwell, D Kerr
Yellow Cards: Wells
VALE OF LEITHEN: Gilpin, Rixon, Berry, McBride, Blaikie, Rossi, Smith, Anderson, Trialist, Ireland, Underhill
Subs not used: None
Yellow Cards: Blaikie, Ireland, Rossi