Your online local sport by Millar Stoddart

Early setback consigns Lanark United to defeat despite late rally

Ronan Kearney found the back of the net but Lanark were unable to share the spoils

Lanark United almost overturned a three-goal deficit to snatch a point against Vale of Leven at Moor Park last Saturday as their disappointing run of form continues.

Stephen Griffen fired the visitors ahead from close range before Andy Clark doubled their lead moments later.

Clark netted Vale’s third goal four minutes after the break  but goals from United’s Shaun Gallagher and Ronan Kearney weren’t enough for the Yowes to get back on level terms, despite creating a series of chances in the second half.

The Royal Burgh side occupy ninth place in the Central District Second Division with four wins in 15 league outings.

Saturday’s contest was Colin Slater’s second game in charge with the former Carluke Rovers manager handing debuts to new defensive duo Martin Smith and Aldin El-Zubaidi.

Lanark were undone from a corner from the right flank that played in to the six yard box and Stephen Griffen pounced on the loose ball to put Vale of Leven ahead.

Worse was to follow for United just one minute later when they turned over possession in the middle of the park and the ball was quickly played forward to Andy Clark who beat the advancing Gareth Halford with a fine left-footed strike.

The hosts almost pulled a goal back from a corner of their own when Cammy Lawson rose above his marker but his header crashed off the crossbar.

Lanark were left to rue Lawson’s miss as they fell further behind moments after the interval when Halford left his goal to collect a speculative pass but he failed to reach the ball in time with Vale finding an unmarked Clark who made no mistake with a simple tap in.

Lanark knew that the opposition had only won one game away from home in the league this season and soon set about trying to reduce their advantage.

United’s Peter O’Donnell collected the ball and surged forward, evading the onrushing Vale defence, before finding Shaun Gallagher with a pinpoint pass and the forward blasted the ball home.

Lanark looked to press their opponents in a bid to put them under pressure in midfield and United earned a free kick from an inviting position that was delivered by Ronan Kearney and his strike was deflected into the Vale net by a defender.

With just one goal between the two sides United continued to push forward in search of an equaliser, with Kearney looking dangerous in possession.

Vale naturally recoiled somewhat as they looked to preserve their slender advantage, with goalkeeper Andy Campbell producing a string of fine saves.

Despite United’s best efforts they were unable to clinch a late goal as they slumped to another disappointing defeat.