Saturday 12 November 2016, 13.30, Ferguson Park

A game in the third round of the South Challenge Cup between Whitehill Welfare of the Lowland League and Abbey Vale of the South of Scotland League.

The South Challenge Cup is a senior non-league football competition for all teams in the Lowland League, East of Scotland League and South of Scotland League as well as Glasgow University.

Today’s hosts are the current holders of the trophy and entered this year’s competition in the previous round with a 5-1 win at Upper Annandale.  Abbey Vale also began in Round 2 and had a very impressive 1-0 win over Lowland League side BSC Glasgow to set up today’s match.

It’s my third viewing of Welfare this season and they have been very inconsistent so far.  The fact that they have an almost entirely new team is the easy answer to this.  They have had some commendable results, such as a win against Spartans, but they have also had some bad ones, such as a 5-1 home defeat by BSC Glasgow.  The perfect example of their season so far came in consecutive Saturdays when they won at Edinburgh University in the Scottish Cup and then lost there the following week in the League.

Abbey Vale are based in the town of New Abbey in Dumfries and Galloway.  They began life as an amateur side by the name of Lochvale in 1971, but as they found most of their players came from New Abbey, decided to change their name and move to the town in 1974.  To remain in the Dumfries Amateur League, they were required to keep the name “Vale” so became Abbey Vale Football Club.

Vale joined the South of Scotland League for the start of the 2001/02 season.  Their best finish was in 2005-06 when they were third.  Last season saw them finish eleventh and they will be looking to improve on that this season.  They are currently ninth in the fourteen team league.

There were around 80 in attendance.

Despite the advertised 1.30 kick off, it’s 1.35 before both teams are on the pitch.  When the referee appears a couple of minutes later, there’s a sarcastic cheer from someone in the crowd. One of the linesmen then uncovers a problem with one of the nets and there’s a further delay as someone comes on to fix it.

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Whitehill looked to start quickly and in the first minute Denton played the ball through for Gormley on the right hand side of the box, but he dragged his shot wide.

Swann put a cross into the Vale box in 4 minutes which came to Healy, who volleyed over from close range.  The ball had been a bit behind him which made it more difficult as he had to stretch for it.

In 7 minutes, Osborne read Connelly’s headed clearance well and half volleyed the ball on the edge of the box at the Vale goal, but it went wide of the post.

There was anger in the home ranks in the tenth minute when Abbey Vale were awarded a goal kick when Ruddick had clearly played the ball out behind his own line.

O’Hara brought the ball forward for Welfare in 11 minutes and was making good progress until he was brought down by Ruddick 23 yards from goal.  Osborne stepped up and sent a fantastic effort into the top corner to give the home side the lead.

In 17 minutes, it looked like a Vale player handled the ball in his own box, but a free kick was given the other way.

A nice one-two between Manson and Denton in 22 minutes saw the latter get to the Vale by-line, but a defender managed to block the cross.

Manson intercepted a misplaced Vale pass in 31 minutes and fed the ball to Gormley.  He quickly gave the ball back to Manson and as he did so, was taken out inside the box.  Healy latched onto the ball and sent it into the net for Welfare’s second.  A penalty would likely have been awarded if the goal hadn’t been scored.

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The home side were completely in control of proceedings.  It looked like the only debate was about how many goals they would score.

With three minutes to half time, Parker was very short with an attempted passback to Alison in the Vale goal.  Gormley ran on to the ball and took it round a defender before rolling it into the net for Whitehill’s third.

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Just before half time, Vale’s Kennedy brought the ball forward and nutmegged Swann before shooting from distance, but his low shot went about a yard wide.

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Welfare began the second half strongly and in 47 minutes a great run down the left by Swann saw him reach the by-line.  His ball across the six-yard box somehow managed to evade everyone in the middle.

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A cross from Healy into the Vale box in 49 minutes was miskicked by Clark and went wide of his own goal.  It could have gone anywhere.

In 54 minutes, Denton’s shot from distance was parried by Alison in the Vale goal and Chalmers ran in to put into the net, but the flag was up for offside.

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Telfer did well to hold the ball up as Vale came forward in 59 minutes and played it back to the edge of the box for Parker, but his shot was deflected wide.

Whitehill’s McGregor and Vale’s Ruddick clashed in 63 minutes when both looked as if they went in with two feet.  Ruddick required lengthy treatment.

Some amusement in 65 minutes when Hall told his Welfare teammate Denton that he was “Too lackadaisy the day.”

Gormley played the ball left to Russell as Welfare came forward again in 69 minutes and his cross into the middle saw Martin not get enough purchase on the ball.  It came back to Osborne whose shot was turned round the post by Alison.

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A minute later and Osborne sent Gormley running through on goal.  He was upended by Edgar who escaped with a booking.

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O’Hara smashed home the penalty to make it 4-0.

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In 72 minutes, Pirrie crossed into the Welfare box and it looked to be right on the head of Mellon at the back post, but it just glanced off his head and the chance was gone.

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A great ball by Telfer had Vale on the attack again in 74 minutes and it found Pirrie in space.  He lofted the ball over the outrushing Young, but there wasn’t enough power in it and O’Hara got back to clear.

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Vale were having their best spell of the game and Telfer found some space in 80 minutes and struck for goal.  It was well hit, but Young acrobatically turned the ball past the post.

A fine ball by O’Hara had Welfare back on the attack in 82 minutes when he picked out Martin.  He ran into the box and dinked the ball over Alison, but it also cleared the bar.

Martin was put through on goal in 84 minutes by Denton and as Alison came out, he squared the ball to Russell who rolled the ball into the empty net for Welfare’s fifth.

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A convincing performance by Welfare who never looked in any trouble.  Vale never gave up as was exemplified by their best spell being in the last 20 minutes.  It really wasn’t their day.

Healy played well for Whitehill and O’Hara, who always impresses when I see Welfare was good again.  Despite it being an easier afternoon than usual for Williams at the back, he didn’t put a foot wrong.  Connelly did his best to hold the Vale defence together and could be pleased with his efforts and Telfer made some good runs up front with little to feed off.

Full Time: Whitehill Welfare 5 Abbey Vale 0

Admission: £6

Whitehill Welfare: 1 Bryan Young, 2 John Hall, 3 Dale O’Hara, 5 John Williams, 7 Steven Manson (Scott Russell 60), 14 Daryl Healy (Andy Martin 60), 12 Ciaren Chalmers (McGregor 55), 15 Michael Osborne, 16 Harvey Swann, 17 Charlie Denton, 18 Scott Gormley.  Subs: 6 Connor McGregor, 9 Andy Martin, 11 Kevin Keane, 10 Scott Russell, 8 Kerr Dodds, 21 Ross Jardine.

Abbey Vale: 1 Stuart Alison, 2 David Ruddick, 3 Brodie Turner, 4 Jack Connelly ( A Clark 76), 5 Stuart Clark, 6 Hayden Edgar, 7 Struan Parker, 8 David Kennedy (Cairnie 60), 9 Christopher Mellon, 10 Curtis Telfer, 11 Lee Malin (Pirrie 60).  Subs: 12 Dylan Cairnie, 14 Kieran Pirrie, 17 Allan Clark.

Referee: Tony Fullerton

Programme: £2

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