Dalbeattie Star’s disappointing league campaign ended with them drawing 1-1 with a dogged Vale of Leithen, despite dominating the vast majority of the match.
For a so called meaningless end of season match, there was enough needle in the game to keep the fans entertained and both sets of players went all out to win the match and not simply go through the motions.
Knowing they had no substitutes, the visitors had to pace themselves throughout the whole match but the home side dominated possession.
They opened the scoring in the 15th minute with a good move down the left that ended with Scott Milligan’s square pass finding full-back Ross Green at the edge of the six yard box and he managed to flick the ball past Gilpin and it trundled into the far corner of the net.
The home side looked in control but were unable to add a second and just after the half hour Liam Ireland collected the ball some 25 yards and beat Star trialist keeper, Taylor Hall, with a superb curling effort that gave the keeper no chance whatsoever.
This was a crucial strike for the visitors and gave them something to hang onto the whole afternoon. Star almost regained the lead within two minutes when Ben Irving capitalised on a defensive error and charged into the penalty area but his shot smacked off the far post and the rebound fell kindly for Vale and the ball was cleared.
Five minutes later Liam Park burst clear but this time it was keeper Gilpin who came to his sides rescue as he saved with his legs.
The second half had the same pattern as the first and Gilpin saved another one on one, this time denying Irving from close range. On the hour Ireland called Star’s trialist keeper into action forcing him into a decent save but most of the action was at the other end.
Star kept their patience rather than just lump the ball into the penalty area and hope for the best, but the Vale defence was resolute and the home side struggled to break them down in the final third. Milligan tried his luck from distance but his superb strike struck the top of the crossbar with Gilpin well beaten.
With time running out Lee Wells’ driven cross was just inches away from Curtiss Wilson in the centre but as Star piled men forward they were almost caught by a sucker punch. However, Aiden Kerr raced back and made a match saving tackle as a Vale forward raced clear and it received a louder cheer than Ross Green’s goal.
In the end, the points were shared but at least Star knew beforehand their Lowland League status was safe and plans can now begin to prepare for a vital season that will begin in three months.
There is still a League Cup campaign that kicks off this weekend to look forward to, and any success in it will be a bonus.