Bluebell Slip-up Against 10-Men Vale
Dundonald Bluebell 1-2 Lothian Thistle Hutchinson Vale
East of Scotland - Conference B
Moorside Park, Dundonald
Dundonald dropped their first home points of the season on Saturday, as LTHV came from behind to grab the win. Despite taking a first-half lead, Bluebell couldn't hold on, even though the visitors played the whole second-half with only ten men.
Although the Bell have enjoyed a decent start to life in the East of Scotland League, the crowd inside Moorside Park was a little disappointing. There wasn't much evidence of away supporters making the short trip over the Queensferry Crossing for Vale's first visit to Fife since losing the title decider to Kelty on the final day of last season.
Bluebell's first chance of the game came from a corner on the right, but O'Neil's header was cleared off the line. The first-half was a bit of a chess match, with most of the action happening in the middle of the park, and not a lot in the way of creativity. Ness & Campbell both had half-chances for the Bell, but Vale keeper Swain was up to the task. Swain has proved in the past that he's one of the best around at this level, and once again he looked like he was on top form.
Vale were trying to by-pass the midfield battle by knocking it long, but the centre-back pairing of Wedderburn and O'Neil were taking it in their stride. O'Neil was winning everything in the air looked like he had it all under control.
It was a bit of a scruffy half of football, not helped by some fussy refereeing from Steven Wilson, who couldn't seem to let the game flow and looked a little too eager to get his yellow card out. On the stroke of half-time, he had to produce the red card though, when Swain raced out of his box and flattened Campbell, with the striker set to pull the trigger. It was a crazy challenge from the keeper, almost as crazy as Thistle having no substitute keeper and so defender Dylan Moore had to take over in the sticks. He had barely pulled the gloves on before he had to pick the ball out of his net, O'Neil rifling home the free-kick to cap off a fine 45 for the big defender, and give his side a vital lead at the break.
With a man advantage and an outfield player in goal, Bluebell would have been forgiven for thinking they could bag a few more in the second-half, but Vale had other ideas. Within ten minutes of the re-start, the scores were level, after the Bluebell defence failed to deal with a long ball forward, and Brown kept his cool to fire the equaliser beyond Inglis.
It got worse for the Bell just a couple of minutes later, another long ball catching the defence out again, Omar Ali this time doing the damage with a neat finish to make it 2-1 to the visitors.
Having looked invincible in the first-half, O'Neil's second-half was turning into a bit of a nightmare. Whether it was sun in his eyes or the swirling wind, big Shaq suddenly looked vulnerable, and it looked for a few minutes like Bluebell would crumble. The midfield weren't providing much respite either, failing to hold onto possession, and not giving the front men much to work with.
Thistle aren't an easy team to love for the neutral, moaning to the ref at the slightest opportunity, and over-selling every little bit of contact. They've shown in the past though that they know how to protect a lead, and with their noses in front the shutters quickly came down. Some of the defending was of the last-ditch variety, as bodies were thrown in front of the ball, but they were doing a decent job of protecting their make-shift keeper who, in truth, didn't have a lot to do.
Bell's best chance came from a corner that was on its way to the net before a Vale head intervened. The home side created a few more openings, but nothing that could be considered a gilt-edge chance. Thistle could have snatched another couple thanks again to some nervous defending, one chance striking the post, and another cleared off the line. In the circumstances, the visitors would be happy to head back over the Forth with the three points, and Bluebell would be disappointed that they didn't really test the team with 10-men and a stand-in keeper.
Dundonald now have a week off before the visit of Dalkeith Thistle at the beginning of October, while Vale play host to Haddington next Saturday in Conference B.
Match photo gallery HERE