Comeback man seals Vale romp
NEARLY a year out of action due to a fractured skull, Deveronvale stopper Liam Forbes celebrated his return with a goal in Saturday's 6-0 win over Fort William.
Forbes (26) suffered a serious head injury in Vale's 3-3 draw at Clach last April, undergoing surgery which involved titanium plates being put into his skull and 55 staples inserted to seal up an operation scar across his scalp.
The Whitehills-based player is now back to health and his frustration at watching games from the stands for the past 10 months ended when he made a 20-minute appearance as substitute against Fort.
His big day ended in joy when the 6ft 4in centre-back, playing as an emergency striker, curled home a fine finish from the edge of the box to complete the scoring.
"I got the last 20 minutes, and ironically my first touch of the ball was a header," he said.
"I have been practising the headers in the warm-ups but I haven't been playing, just been easing myself into it.
"I had to kind of build myself up into it, but I'm feeling pretty confident now so there wasn't any real fears.
"They were struggling for bodies on Saturday. I was pretty much setting my sights on next season and I wasn't really interested in playing much this season but I said to Dippy (manager Steve Dolan) I was ready to get some minutes in and the chance came on Saturday.
"They put me up top for the last 15 minutes and I've played there before, so it was fine to get a goal at the end.
"I feel fitter than I've ever felt. I will try and get as many minutes in between now and the end of the season as I can and then start afresh in pre-season, and take it from there."
Vale were restricted to just two first-half goals despite dominating play against a Fort side who they defeated 8-0 in Lochaber earlier this season.
Robbie Allan grabbed his first goal since August to open the scoring on 13 minutes and Grant Noble netted number two from a penalty kick awarded for handball.
Some good saves by the Fort keeper Callum Ligertwood kept the home side at bay until the hour mark when Kevin Adams got on the end of a corner kick to make it 3-0 – only the second goal of Adams' Vale career with the last coming in season 2015/16.
Dolan rang the changes with Robert Scott and Harry Noble brought on from the bench, then Forbes replaced Sam Robertson to mark his comeback.
Scott chipped in with his 15th goal of the season as Vale produced a strong finish in the final 10 minutes.
Lewis Dunbar's sixth of the campaign made it 5-0 and Forbes earned the loudest cheer of all when he struck a last-minute effort to seal a good day's work by the Banff men.
Vale clambered above Huntly into ninth place and the top half of the Highland League table with their win, and now have their sights set on Wick and Buckie just above them in the rankings.
This weekend Vale are away to Strathspey Thistle.