Manager Brian Brown is full of optimism for this season’s campaign after seeing clear progress by his Vale of Leven side in recent weeks.

The Vale started off their season finish third in their Sectional League Cup group, losing their first two games to 3-0 to Port Glasgow at Parklea, and then 1-0 at home to Renfrew.

An early Martin Paton goal was followed up by two headers from Luke Hemphill to give the hosts a comfortable win at Parklea in their opening Cup tie.

But Vale were much improved in their following game against Super First Division side Renfrew, edged out 1-0 thanks to a Dominic Innes strike.

Brown’s side then dismantled both Johnstone Burgh and Greenock Juniors in their final two games of the group, comfortably beating both teams.

Vale then followed that up by firing in four goals against St Anthony's, beating them 4-2 on Saturday.

The Vale boss is happy with his side’s improvements in the last month, and was pleased at his forwards firing in goals, in particular Ritchie Stewart, after the striker joined from Haldane United.

He said: “We’re looking a lot sharper up front. We’ve started scoring goals and that’s Ritchie Stewart who’s scored four goals in the last two games, we’re looking quite sharp up front, it’s taking a bit of shape now.

“We’ve gone from playing three at the back to playing four, it’s just taken a bit of time to bed in but I think we’re starting to get the benefit out of that now, especially on the big park.

“The boys are all looking really fit. The boys have put in a great shift through the pre-season, and they’re looking as if they’re starting to get the benefits out of it.”

Brown expects Matthew Devine and Robbie Dolan back sooner than suspected, after they were forced off in the Port Glasgow tie.

The Vale manager added: “Matthew and Robbie were both forced off with ankle injuries.

“I’m hoping they’ll be back within the next couple of weeks.

“They were looking at six weeks to start with, but both of them are starting to feel a wee bit better so we’re hoping that it won’t be as long as we thought.”