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GREAT DANE LEADS THE WAY IN DOG EAT DOG BANFFSHIRE BATTLE
 
 Deveronvale 3-2 Keith
 
Scorers: McNamee 6, Duncan 9, Murray 21, Sutherland 38, Ballard 86
 
Vale pulled off their first win of 2017 in a five goal thriller at Princess Royal Park and they certainly did it the hard way. Two goals down within nine minutes to Gary McNamee's header and Kris Duncan's close-ranger the young Banff side simply rolled up theirs sleeves and got to work. 
Cammy Murray started the comeback when he stabbed home before Paul Sutherland squared things ahead of the interval with his eight of the campaign.
 
In an end to end second forty-five Dane Ballard proved to be the hero when he headed home with four minutes remaining to send the Valley Crew home with a smile on their faces for the first time since the 17th of December when their club last picked up three points against Rothes.
 
Steve Dolan didn't have a large squad to pick from as he plotted a morale-boosting three points and gave on-loan young defender Kyle Wilcox a run at left-back while Chris Blackhall returned to the midfield in place of the injured Dan Smith, the unavailable Graeme Watt and transfer listed Scott Begg as the Banffers played on a Saturday for the first time since the fourth of February.
 
The playing surface survived referee Liam Duncan's inspection upon arrival and things got underway in the continuous rainfall and on the sodden pitch.
 
Grant Noble wasn't far away with a long-range strike which zipped beyond David Dey's right-hand upright but the opening goal came at the other end with just six minutes on the clock. Stewart Hutcheon's cross from the left was headed over Grant Pennet outstretched hand by defender Gary McNamee who was in the Vale penalty box following a corner which was only partially cleared.
 
Kris Duncan made it two three minutes later when James Brownie got in behind the Vale back four and although Grant Pennet did well to save the midfielder's effort Kris Duncan followed up to net against his former employers although the ball just seemed to hit him as it rebounded off keeper Pennet.
 
Following a rather dull midfield battle the homeside battled back into the match and pulled one back midway through the half. Lewis Dunbar made progress into the Keith box before firing a low ball across the face of goal and Cammy MURRAY was on cue to poke it home from point blank range.
 
Michael Ewen was presented with a great chance to restore Keith's two goal advantage soon after but screwed well wide when through one-on-one following another ball in behind Vale's flat looking defence while at the opposite end a palm to his left by Maroons keeper David Dey was just enough to prevent Grant Noble with a simple tap-in following Cammy Murray's initial effort.
 
With seven minutes of the half remaining the Banffers drew level. Grant Noble picked up the ball on the turn before slipping a fine ball to find the run of Paul SUTHERLAND and the number seven didn't disappoint with a cool finish beyond the exposed David Dey.
 
Dane Ballard failed to work the visiting Dey from another Cammy Murray centre as the half time whistle blew and with things all square.
 
Mike Ewen passed up another good opportunity when he headed wide after Grant Pennet hesitated whether to come or not for Craig Cormack's centre while at the St Andrews end Dane Ballard was sent in on goal but shot straight at the legs of David Dey.
 
A Craig Cormack corner was missed by the head of Mike Ewen before David Dey pulled off a stunning one-handed stop to deny Grant Noble and the homeside the lead after good lead-up play by strike partner Dane Ballard 
 
Cammy Keith replaced central defender Gary McNamee as Allan Hale changed formation in an effort to take the points and it very nearly paid off when the substitute had a close range effort blocked by the home defence.
 
New signing James McLaren entered the fray when he replaced Grant Noble with twenty minutes to go while opposition substitute Max Beaton forced Grant Pennet into a save high to his right following a free-kick at the edge of the penalty area.
 
As the game started to open up a quick break down the right by the Banffers saw Paul Sutherland make progress to the beeline and picking out Dane Ballard but the latter's low shot from 20-yards was turned away by the boot of David Dey.
 
Kris Duncan hit the foot of the post as he turned Max Beaton's low cross goalwards but with four minutes of the ninety remaining it was the homeside who stole the three points.
 
Substitute James McLaren floated a free-kick into the Keith penalty area and Dane BALLARD looped a header over David Dey to score the winner with his tenth of the season.
 
Former Rothes striker James McLaren had two sights of goal in the closing minutes but the first one went into the side netting while his attempted chip cleared the cross bar although this failed to dampen the spirits as Vale picked up their first three points of the year.
 
Vale: Pennet, Dunbar, Willox, Aitken, Krobot, Forbes, Sutherland, Blackhall Ballard (cpt), Noble (McLaren 71), Murray
Subs: Souter, Manson, Begg, Fraser, Mackie (gk)
 
Keith: Dey, Clark, Hutcheon, Milne, MacNamee (Keith 60), *69 Brownlie, Cormack (MacAskill 68), Cooper, *83 Barbour, Ewen (Berton 68)), *76 Duncan
Subs: Smith, Whelan, Salmon (gk)
Manager: Allan Hale
 
Referee: Liam Duncan
 
Vale Stats:
Efforts On: 6
Efforts Off: 5
Woodwork: 0
Corners: 5
Offside: 0
Overhead Conditions: Raining
Playing Surface: Very Wet
Temp at KO: 4 deg C
Last Season: 0-4
 
Reporter: Neil Montgomery
Reported LastEdited: 5-Mar-2017
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