Table toppers Rossvale stretch lead with victory in seven-goal thriller

Matt Niven heads in Rossvale's fourth goal (pic by Helen Templeton, Twitter: @dibsy_)
Matt Niven heads in Rossvale's fourth goal (pic by Helen Templeton, Twitter: @dibsy_)

Rossvale moved five points clear at the top of the Central First Division table with a 4-3 win over Forth Wanderers at New Hunterhill on Saturday.

Despite the visitors’ lowly league position they caused issues for the Vale defence in the early stages.

And their pressure paid off in the 15th minute when Warren Grenfell leapt at the back post to nod home a Willie McLaren cross.

It took until the 32nd minute for Rossvale’s first clear chance. A great cross by Gary Giffin caught the Forth defence flat footed but Liam McGonigle failed to connect with a diving header.

However within a minute McGonigle, as he has continually this season, produced a bit of magic to get Rossvale level.

He collected a Liam Crichton through ball, eluded two Forth challenges and side-footed the ball past the outrushing keeper into the bottom corner.

After the break McGonigle curled a shot just wide before the home side took a 57th minute lead.

Once more a neat Crichton through ball found McGonigle moving down the right and he coolly slipped in Stephen McGladrigan who chipped the advancing keeper from eight yards out.

But Rossvale’s lead didn’t last long. A break from kick-off saw McLaren take control of the ball on the left and fire a shot from the edge of the box high past Jamie Donnelly.

Rossvale regained the advantage on 61 minutes when they were awarded a penalty for a foul on Crichton.

Captain Jamie Hunter’s spot kick was saved but the ball rebounded to predator McGladrigan who slotted home.

Gordon Moffat’s side gave themselves breathing space with a fourth goal in the 73rd minute, Matt Niven rising above everyone to bullet a header into the top corner for his first goal for Rossvale.

Forth grabbed a lifeline in the final minute of normal time when McLaren fired the ball into the box and Niven attempted to clear only to see his touch fly past Donnelly into the bottom corner.

However the home side survived stoppage time to stretch their lead at the top thanks to closest challengers Benburb being held to a draw at Greenock.