Vale of Lune 13-3 Birkenhead Park

Billy Swarbrick clears the ball.
Billy Swarbrick clears the ball.

The return fixture between the two clubs marked the start of the Chinese New Year, the year of the Fire Rooster, certainly the Vale of Lune caused the sparks to fly by becoming the first club to defeat title chasing Birkenhead Park this season.

For the Vale this was an extraordinary, breath taking, awesome, immense-choose any adjective you like-achievement, and one of the most superb performances witnessed by the Powderhouse Lane faithful for many seasons.

Winger Damon Hall was named man of the match, a most honourable award because he grew into the game and played an increasing pivotal role as the game unfolded.

Vale sent the feathers flying in all directions with an early excursion into the hen house – centre Jonty Higgin pulled on his four league boots to stride through Park’s retreating defence.

The forwards sensed that this was a move worthy of their attention and before the cock had finished crowing flanker Jack Ayrton spotted a gap to plunge over for an unconverted try after two minutes.

It was all Vale in the opening minutes, Park were on the back foot but when Ben Dorrinton was sent to his perch for a ten minute spell in the coop the roles were reserved.

Vale covered their loss with some lung bursting covering and uncompromising tackling. Eventually the pressure produced a scoring opportunity in the 26th minute when the evergreen Simon Mason kicked a penalty goal for Park.

The Vale found further nourishment in the 37th minute because following Park’s score their hackles rose.

The forwards again were the providers of another try. From a five metre line out the Vale manoeuvred the troops into their correct positions and once all were in their allotted slots a well worn path was followed to the goal line.

Skipper Dan Baines wrestled and grappled his way over wide on the left for an unconverted try.

As was to be expected Park came roaring back at the Vale in the second half, determined to put these pesky bantams in their place, but despite getting up close and personal the Vale remained unruffled.

Ben Dorrington was sent off in the 51st minute but in the 63rd minute Damon Hall effortlessly swung over a penalty kick to give the Vale added insurance. Park endeavoured to close the gap but a strong Vale defence stood strong and secured the win.