Bright sunshine greeted both teams onto the Saracen turf as Ashfield and Vale of Leven set about getting `back on the rails` after last week`s defeats against Newmains and Lesmahagow respectively. Ashfield made two enforced changes and started with Patrick Cullen and top scorer Graeme Hearton in midfield berths with Billy Stevenson back in action partnering Keigan Parker up front. It was the visitors that made the first chance of the match in the opening minutes as McNaught got clear of his marker only to be denied by the legs of John Mullen in the Ashfield goal. Ashfield heeded the warning and played some nice football resulting in a number of corners. Ashfield almost went ahead in the 12th minute when a lovely whipped in corner was met by Ciaran Friel and his glancing header missed the far post by inches. A few minutes later however and the `field went ahead following a sweeping move. Keigan Parker picked the ball up just inside the Vale half and drove towards goal before slipping in an onrushing Graeme Hearton. The ex-Rossvale striker drove the ball low and hard towards goal with the Vale keeper getting something on it which diverted the ball onto the post only to see Billy Stevenson tap the ball home despite the attentions of the Vale defence. Ashfield 1 Vale of Leven 0. The `field continued to press and Kenny Hadden`s long throw-ins were causing problems in the visitors back four however on the whole the Vale Keeper did very well. Billy Stevenson and Mark McManus had efforts which went narrowly over the bar as the home side finished the half on a high.
HT:- Ashfield 1 Vale of Leven 0.
The home support were clearly hoping that missed chances would not come back to haunt them however this game was a completely different affair in the 2nd with the Alexandria outfit putting on an excellent show which was appreciated by their travelling support. The visitors seemed to re-organise their front line and put the `field back four under pressure firstly in the 55th minute, following a sweeping move the ball broke to a midfielder who drove the ball low and hard past John Mullen only to see the ball cannon back off the post and straight into the arms of the big Ashfield Keeper. A real let off for the `field. Next up was a succession of corners which on the whole were well defended however the last one saw an onrushing Vale player win the header only to see the ball blocked on the line by Paddy Cullen. The `field were restricted to break-aways and they still looked dangerous with Stevenson and Hearton going close however with 12 minutes to go the visitors equalised. A move down the left wing saw the ball cut back into the penalty spot area with Gallagher for the Vale being first to react as he volleyed the cross into the top corner of the net to the delight of the travelling support. Ashfield 1 Vale of Leven 1. The match then began to become very open as the home side went in search of trying to get a winner. This was helped by the dismissal of a Vale player for a 2nd yellow card with 8 minutes to go. Ashfield Captain Ciaran Friel thought that he had won the Match for the `field as he weaved past 4 defenders in the 90th minute only to see his net bound effort blocked by the legs of the Vale Keeper. Referee Craven brought proceedings to a close shortly after and taking the whole game into account, a draw was probably a fair result. Both teams had put in a very good shift and as for the `field they still remain top of the League albeit are now `catchable`with Lanark and Lesmahagow`s game in hand. The `field`s next League game is a mouth watering one at Lesmahagow on the 6th October at Craighead Park however before that the League takes a rest and Ashfield welcome Banchory St Ternan to Saracen next Saturday (29th - 2.30pm KO) in the 2nd Round of the Scottish Junior Cup. (Photos of today`s game on `Match Photos` Section).
FT:- Ashfield 1 Vale of Leven 1