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Strathspey Thistle 0-3 Deveronvale


Scorers: Ballard 77, Noble 82 & 90


A late Grant Noble brace coupled with Dane Ballard's eleventh of the season saw Deveronvale clinch fifteenth place in the league table as they saw off a spirited fight from hosts Strathspey at blustery and cold Grantown-on-Spey to go and win their final match in what can only be described as a challenging campaign.


In a tight first forty-five the Speysiders gave a good account of themselves with the wintery breeze at their backs but the second period belonged to Steve Dolan's youngers with the deserved breakthrough finally coming midway through the half when Dane Ballard pounced during a skirmish inside the 6-yard box whilst leaving the limelight to strike partner Grant Noble who completed his double with a crisp finish followed by a low shot from distance eight minutes apart.


Captain Dane Ballard returned to the Vale line-up for their last match of a long hard season as did Grant Noble while Liam Forbes and Paul Sutherland missed out through illness and injury respectively.


Hosts Strathspey had three trialists in their starting eleven as they looked to bounce back from a defeat at Fort William in midweek which sent them to the bottom of the table with two games to go, although with an away day trip to champions elect Buckie Thistle in their final fixture meant they really needed points from today's final home game to avoid the wooden spoon.


Brian Grant's side started the better and Glen Donoghue had a great chance after eight minutes but lifted the ball over the top from 12-yards while in Vale's first major attack of the encounter Robert Scott, playing wide right, was picked out by Grant Noble but Stewart Black in the home sticks saved at point-blank range to deny the former Strathy loanee.


As the match continued to swing from end to end Grant Pennet was at full stretch to palm Ryan McLeod's low centre ahead of Robert Scott's clearance before the same player in a red shirt at the opposite end watched in agony as his near-post header off Grant Noble's set-piece expertly tipped over the top by Stewart Black.


The Banffers playing into the swirling breeze were struggling to get the ball down and were mainly on the back foot as Kraig Vass saw his 20-yarder fail to work Grant Pennet much to the trialist's annoyance as he had the space and time to better control his attempt and force at the very least a save off the Vale custodian.


Grant Noble hit the side netting after an acrobatic effort from James McLaren didn't quite come off and Dane Ballard created an opening for his strike partner by hitting the bye-line and crossing to the back post area. HT


A decent start to the second period from the visitors saw Kyle Gauld play in Dane Ballard but the skipper saw his strike deflected wide for a corner which came to nothing.


The Reds kept the momentum going and Ballard headed a James McLaren cross over the top before the latter was replaced by Graeme Watt and when Ballard did find the target minutes later  the power in his header wasn't enough to trouble keeper Stewart Black.


Another fine stop from Stewart Black saw the keeper get down well to divert Dane Ballard's low effort to safety after fine wing play from substitute Graeme Watt while a break away and a huge chance for the home side saw Glenn Donoghe through one on one with Grant Pennet with the latter getting the better of the trialist as his first touch took him slightly wide and Pennet stood up strong to save the day in what was probably his final appearance for the Banff side.


The break through finally came in the seventy-seventh minute, Graeme Watt's ball in from the right-hand flag bobbed about inside the Strathy six-yard box before Dane BALLARD poked home for his eleventh of the season.


Vale doubled their advantage five minutes later when a diagonal free-kick from Steven Davidson picked out Grant NOBLE and the wee striker took a touch before volleying a lovely crisp effort into the bottom corner of Stewart Black's net.


Scott Fraser made his long awaiting return to action following a serious knee injury and operation when he replaced Lewis Dunbar with five minutes remaining not long after Kevin Souter had came on for Kyle Gauld.


Grant NOBLE completed the scoring in time added on with a long range effort which looked to have taken a nick off a Strathspey defender before find the net past the despairing hand of Stewart Black.


Vale: Pennet, Dunbar (Fraser 85), Willox, Aitken, Krobot, Davidson, Scott, *36 Gauld (Souter 78), Ballard (cpt), Noble, McLaren (Watt 62)

Subs: Ross, Mackie (gk)


Thistle: Black, Hume, Cairns, Swindon, Fernandinho-Soto, *80 McLeod, Browett, Vass (t), Finnis, Grahame (t), Donoghue (t)

Subs: McKernie, Edwards, Wilson, Black (gk)

Manager: Brian Grant


Referee: David Watt


Vale Stats:

Efforts On: 10

Efforts Off: 6

Woodwork: 0

Corners: 7

Offside: 2

Overhead Conditions: Sunny but Cool Breeze

Playing Surface: Uneven

Temp at KO: 8 deg C

Last Season: 0-0

Reporter: Neil Montgomery
Reported LastEdited: 15-Apr-2017
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