Vale of Leven boss Brian Brown is urging his men to dust themselves down and bounce back after Saturday’s disappointing 3-0 loss at home to Ashfield.

The visitors took the lead at Millburn Park in 28 minutes when Michael Giblin let fly with an exceptional strike from 40 yards.

In the second half, Vale tried to push back but they were caught on the break as Giblin headed home his second before Ciaran Friel slotted in a late penalty after a push in the box.

A second booking for Richie Stewart in injury time saw Brown’s men finish the game with ten men.

It was a missed opportunity for third-placed Vale who were back in action for the first time since January 26 and have Carluke Rovers and Ashfield hot on their heels in the West Region League Two.

Read more: Vale of Leven boss Brian Brown urges his men to improve their away form

He told the Reporter: “It was a pretty poor performance from us. (The break due to postponed fixtures) certainly didn’t help, but it was the same for the other teams who had two weeks off. Everyone is in the same boat, so I wouldn’t really like to use that as an excuse.

“We just never started the game properly and really struggled to get ourselves into it.

“It has allowed Ashfield to close the gap on us a wee bit. I think if we had beat them it would have given us a wee bit of a cushion with seven games to go. Now they can get past us with their games in hand.”

Next up for Vale is a trip to take on ninth-placed Thorniewood United this weekend.

Brown added: “It’ll be another difficult game for us away from home. Thorniewood won (at the weekend), so they will be on a bit of a high. We just need to go there and pick up three points because we are still in a decent position.

“It’s onwards and upwards. There is no reason to mope about because it’s been a good season up until this point.

“There is no team I would like to think that are going to go and win all their games until the end of the season.

“There are more ups and downs to come. It’s still all there for us if we go and do the right thing.”

Kick-off on Saturday at Robertson Park in Uddingston is 2pm.