Port Vale v Bradford City
Saturday 25th February 2017
At Vale Park
Attendance 4,953 including 1,150 visiting supporters
Alex Jones hit the decisive goal of the game to deny Vale a point as Bradford went away with a 2-1 win, as the former Vale loanee hit his seventh goal at Vale Park this season.
The previous six had all been in Vale colours of course, but perhaps it was written in the script that the former Birmingham City man would come off the bench to break Vale’s hearts.
Romain Vincelot had put the Bantams in front in the 41st minute, but an improved second half performance from the Valiants saw JJ Hooper level the scores, but it was Jones who had the final say.
Forced to make at least one change to the starting eleven, due to the suspension of Kjell Knops, Michael Brown brought in midfielder Callum Guy to make up the side.
Before the game the Caretaker Manager was cagey to say the least when asked how his side would line up against Promotion contenders Bradford City, but it soon became apparent that Gut was to play on the right of a back four, with Ben Purkiss moving inside.
Vale almost started the game in perfect fashion when a thunderous thirty yard drive from Kiko forced Colin Doyle to go down sharply at the foot of his left hand upright to make a save.
Within three minutes of the kick off there were more injury worries for the Vale when centre back Nathan Smith picked up a knock, but he decided to play on and shrug it off.
Vale had plenty to deal with when the visitors pushed forward. Stuart McCall’s side were looking sharp up to the final third, but not giving Leo Fasan in the Vale goal too much to do.
They were carving Vale open at times, but were not taking full advantage, with a poor miss by Josh Cullen typifying their lack of cutting edge.
At the other end Vale were not producing too much either, but Anton Forrester created a half chance for himself when he turned sharply to shoot, but it didn’t cause Doyle too many problems.
For a short while Vale thought they had been awarded a penalty when Forrester slipped the ball into the path of Jerome Thomas in the box. The Vale winger was clearly brought down, but he was ruled to have been in an offside position.
GOAL: Bradford took the lead in the 41st minute when Romain Vincelot got on the end of a free kick taken by Tony McMahan to head home from 8 yards.
Bradford started the better of the two sides after the break, with Fasan being called upon to make an early save as the visitors drove forward.
Vale were offering very little from an attacking point of view, but came close to levelling in the 55th minute when Forrester held off his man to get a shot in, only for Doyle to react, making a decent save.
GOAL: Two minutes later Vale carved out an equaliser from nothing, when Forrester found himself surrounded by Bradford players towards the corner flag, but he somehow wriggled free and crossed the ball for JJ HOOPER to bundle home.
It showed that Vale, despite the visitors being the better side in terms of possession and goal chances, were still very much still in the game.
Vale were no in the ascendancy , the goal visibly lifting the confidence and the home crowd alike, but they still needed to be careful not to leave any gas at the back.
Vale went close to a second goal with a 30 yard left footed strike from Callum Guy, who had ventured upfield to join in the attack – it whistled just inches over the bar.
On 70 minutes Vale made their first change. Off went Chris Eagles as Michael Brown introduced fresh legs in the shape of on loan Olamide Shodipo.
GOAL: Just seconds later the vistors brought on Alex Jones, ironically still Vale’s top goalscorer, and in the 74th minute it was he who put Bradford back in front, firing home from just inside the box.
Four minutes later Vale made their second substitution when Dan Turner was introduced into the action as a replacement for Anton Forrester, who had earlier picked up a knock.
And in the 85th minute Vale made a final change when Gezim Shalaj took the place of a tiring Jerome Thomas.
PORT VALE:Leo Fasan, Ben Purkiss, JJ Hooper, Sam Foley, Daniel Pugh, Jerome Thomas, Anton Forrester, Kiko, Nathan Smith, Callum Guy, Chris Eagles. SUBS: Sam Kelly, Dan Turner, Scott Tanser, Ryan Boot, Sebastien Amoros, Gezim Shalaj, Olamide Shodipo
BRADFORD CITY:Colin Doyle, James Meredith, Nicky Law, Romain Vincelot, Charlie Wyke, Billy Clarke, Jordy Huwula, Josh Cullen, Nathaniel Kinight-Percival, Rory McArdle, Tony McMahon. SUBS: Stephen Darby, Kevin Toner, Timothee Dieng, Rouven Sattelmairer, Alex Gilliead, Alex Jones, Danny Devine