After a narrow defeat in the last game of 2018 away to Forres Mechanics, Vale started 2019 with a home game against Clachnacuddin. Games between the two clubs tend to be tight affairs, although Vale won the match at Grant Street earlier in the season by 3-0, with two goals by Robbie Allan and one by Harry Noble.
The first half was indeed tight and competitive, although neither team showed the quality to take the few chances they created. Clach fashioned the better chances but Grant Pennet pulled of a couple of very good saves to keep Vale level at the interval.
The second half started with Vale showing more in attack and after no more than five minutes a run and excellent cross by Kyle Willox saw Robert Scott convert clinically for his fourteenth goal of the season. Two minutes later a short back pass put Clach under pressure and a cool-headed Grant Noble slipped the ball past the Clach keeper for his seventh of the season giving Vale a 2-0 lead.
Robert Scott had a couple of other chances to add to his total, and make the game safe for Vale, but pressure from Clach defenders told and he was unable to take either. Clach battled on and, as often seems to be the case, late in the game scored a very good goal through Sean Webb to take the score to 2-1 to ensure a tense last 10 minutes. However, very close to full time, Scott Dunn, brother of Vale centre half Michael, went for a ball with Grant Pennet with his foot raised very high and received a straight red car for what was, undoubtedly, dangerous play. Thankfully Grant was not seriously injured and continued until the full-time whistle blew.
So, three hard earned but, overall, deserved points which keeps Vale in ninth position on 31 points after 23 games, one behind Buckie Thistle and Huntly, although both of those teams have two games in hand over Vale. Vale’s tally for 23 games is one behind the 32 points at the same stage last season.
Next week sees another visit to 2nd placed Fraserburgh, who were narrow winners this weekend away at Nairn County. Bellslea is never an easy place to pick up points but Vale fans will be keen to see how the team does after the SHFL League Cup win there in November and encouraging performances in the last three league games.