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Deveronvale 4-2 Fort William
Scorers: Davidson 23 (pen), Harris 27 (pen) & 52, Sutherland 32 & 36, Highet 47
Steve Dolan's new look side got their season off and running with a home victory over plucky Fort William. After falling behind to a soft penalty the Banffers kicked on and replied with three quick goals at the opposite end to more or less settle the issue although Highet's counter immediately after the break did have the Lochaber side back in the game temporarily until skipper for the day  Gary Harris killed them off with his second of the afternoon five minutes later.
A minute's applause was observed before kick-off for life-long supporter and founder member of the Vale supporters club Bob Ferguson, long-serving Lossiemouth club official Lorna McIntosh & former HFL referee Sandy Smith who sadly all passed away recently.
The Vale in their new all red kit started the match and new season promisingly with Craig Cowie getting their first effort of mention on target although Fort keeper Douglas MacLennan was right behind the midfielders 20-yarder.
A rare foray forward from the visitors saw Martin Munro fire narrowly over the top before Chris Blackhall, playing at the back due to Scott Fraser's suspension and up for a corner kick, smacked the base of the post with an acrobatic bicycle-kick off Graeme Watt's flighted cross from the right.
Midway through the half and totally against the run of play a long ball over the top saw new signing Steven Fraser tussled with Iain MacLellan deep inside the Vale danger area with referee Alex Shepherd deeming it a foul and pointing to the spot. Scott Davidson made sure Fort William took full advantage of the soft award by firing the ball past James Blanchard for the opener.
Vale equalised within four minutes with a penalty of their own when Gary HARRIS beat Douglas MacLennan from 12-yards after the referee penalised a Fort William defender for an infringement as Graeme Watt's flag-kick swung over the waiting players and out of play, no player in red complained but the official was adamant and the home skipper also made no mistake.
Steve Dolan's side took confidence from their equaliser and grabbed the lead soon after, Paul SUTHERLAND planting a swerving effort beyond Douglas MacLennan from 8-yards after the Fort defence failed to clear a high ball into their 18-yard box.
The Banffers were now in full flow and made it 3-1 with a well worked counter. Graeme Watt did the donkey work down his favourite left flank and after his low cross was dummied by Gary Harris Paul SUTHERLAND's finish was very pleasing on the eye as his drag-back gave him the space and time to bury his shot under the despairing arm of the Fort custodian.
Good goalkeeping from Douglas MacLennan kept the score-line unchanged as half-time approached, probably at the right time for the ragged looking visitors as Gary Harris and Paul Sutherland were denied from adding to their personal tallies by the busy keeper. HT
Fort were back in the match two minutes after the restart and it was horrible goal from the homeside's point of view. A deep free-kick came into the Vale penalty area from Andreas Broomfield with neither centre-backs, Chris Blackhall or Steven Fraser taking control of the situation leaving Daniel Highet all the time in the world to nip in and slot the ball under a furious James Blanchard.
Another fine flowing move and finish saw the Banffers open up their two goal cushion once more five minutes later, Paul Sutherland was the provider as he showed the Fort left-back a clean pair of heels before feeding fellow striker Gary HARRIS and the latter showed great composure to nick the ball beyond the advancing Douglas MacLennan.
Recent signing Scott Begg hit the post after some tenacious play from the former Locos tough-tackling midfielder before Adam Porritt reminded the homeside that they were still in the match as he blasted a set-piece narrowly wide from distance.
Substitute Lukas Krobot, who replaced the cautioned Scott Begg, headed over when well placed to finish Graeme Watt's fifth corner of the match before the game turned into a midfield bore with Fort working hard to close down play and stop their hosts from getting up another head of steam although the visitors failed to create much in the final third which would suggest a come-back was on the cards.
Skipper Gary Harris limped off late on which will be a worry for the Vale management team as they'll face much tougher opponents in the weeks to come and especially with the likes of Kevin Adams, Dane Ballard & Zander Jack all out of action with injuries.
Vale: Blanchard, Manson, Aitken, *51 Begg (Krobot 71), Blackhall, Steven Fraser, Cowie, Souter, Sutherland (Keith 77), Harris (cpt) Rae 88), Watt
Subs: Archibald, Patterson Pennet (Gk)
Fort William: MacLennan, Foggo, Broomfield, Moffat (T), Macrae, *92 Porritt, Munro, higher (Chisholm 82), MacLellan (Taylor 55), Davidson (MacPhee 61), Lingard
Subs:, MacIntyre (T), Fell, Tot, Paterson (T)
Manager: Ally Ewen
Referee: Alex Shepherd
Vale Stats:
Efforts On: 9
Efforts Off: 5
Woodwork: 2
Corners: 5
Offside: 3
Overhead Conditions: Sunny
Playing Surface: Lush
Temp at KO: 19 Deg C
Last Season: 4-1
Reporter: Neil Montgomery
Reported LastEdited: 31-Jul-2016
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