Another fine Saturday afternoon weather-wise at North Lodge Park, which was looking in excellent condition. Vale had captain Ross Aitken returning from a suspension after his two yellow cards away to Wick Academy as well as Kyle Willox and Harry Noble back in the squad. However, Michael Dunn was absent after his groin strain against Huntly, Courtney Cooper was offshore and Sam Robertson on holiday. Dane Ballard and Kev Adams were the other players not available due to injury.
Recent Vale performances at NLP has seen the team run the home side close for 75 minutes before succumbing to continued pressure with goals conceded in the last 15 minutes. Today saw a very different shape to the match with the first 15 minutes proving costly before Vale started playing better football and putting pressure on the Formartine defence towards the end of the match.
Formartine struck in the 9th minute when a cross from Scott Lisle, who was finding space to attack down Vale’s right, was met on the turn by Gary Wood whose crisp header was steered past Grant Pennet. A second goal was quickly added when Scott Lisle put the ball in the net after the ball bounced about the 6-yard box. A further 3 minutes later Vale’s predicament looked even more serious when Michael Clark met a corner from the Vale right unchallenged to head home Formartine’s third goal. The three goals in six minutes seemed to have ended the game as a competition and left some Vale fans thinking that the remaining 75 minutes could see several more goals in Vale’s “against” column.
Vale came more into the game in the remaining half hour of the first half but didn’t really give veteran goalkeeper Kevin Main in the Formartine goal too many difficult moments to cope with. Whilst Formartine kept pressing the Vale final third, it looked as though Vale would hold out until HT until the 43rd minute when Grant Pennet failed to deal with an Andy Greig corner and the ball fell to Michael Clark who calmly slotted the ball home for his second and Formartine’s fourth. HT 4-0. Clearly Formartine were the better team in the first half but Vale players, management and fans must be disappointed with the ease with which all four goals were scored.
The second half of the game saw more attacking at both ends, with Vale coming more into things and Colin Charlesworth putting Formartine left back Kieran Lawrence under increasing pressure. Formartine centre forward Gary Wood was caught offside on a number of occasions and the shooting boots he had on in the first half must have been swapped for a less accurate pair at HT. An injury to Jody Munro saw Harry Noble on for his first game of the season with makeshift left -back Robert Scott moving forward to his more natural striking position. A further change saw Kyle Gauld, who had a very solid game in midfield, replaced by Dan Smith.
Vale’s better attacking play was rewarded in the 75th minute when a Colin Charlesworth cross from the Formartine left was met by Robert Scott who firmly slotted home his third goal of the season. The three-goal deficit was almost reduced further a few minutes later when, first, Grant Noble best Kevin Main only to see his shot comeback off the post and then Ross Archibald broke free but pulled his shot past the keeper’s right-hand post.
In summary, the game was lost in the first 15 minutes and Vale need to work on their defensive tightness. There will be a chance to do that next weekend as it is Vale’s turn to sit out the weekend in the 17 team league we have this season. Next match is away to Clach on 31st August.