A FIRST half hat-trick from Ritchie Stewart sealed a comfortable win for Vale of Leven over Johnstone Burgh at Millburn Park on Saturday.

The Vale picked up their first points of the Sectional League Cup group, and jumped up to third place with a game left to play against Greenock on Wednesday.

The hosts got off to an ideal start, with Stewart heading home Allan Macpherson’s corner after eight minutes.

Vale doubled their advantage 16 minutes later when Macpherson again set up Stewart who made it two goals from two attempts.

Burgh goalkeeper Ryan Mailey was then called into action to prevent Adam Monaghan, Benjamin Craig and Lee McGeachy from putting the game to bed early on.

However, Mailey wasn’t able to stop Stewart from completing his hat-trick and making in 3-0 with seven minutes still left in the first half.

Burgh started much better in the second half and immediately put the hosts under pressure with a succession of early chances.

Burgh’s best chance to score came with four minutes to go when they were awarded a penalty kick for a foul on Grant Kelly.

Kelly elected to take the spot kick himself and fired his shot towards the bottom right-hand corner, however it was saved by Robert Tiropoulos.