Oxford United v Port Vale
Monday 17h April 2017
At the Kassam Stadium
Attendance 7,646 including 351 visiting supporters
Vale look to be staring relegation in the face despite twice having the ball in the Oxford net, after conceding a goal in each half at the Kassam Stadium.
Nathan Smith thought he had put the Vale in front in the 13th minute but the goal was ruled out and the home side struck with the opening goal from Josh Ruffels just a minute later.
Vale thought they had levelled the score when Dan Turner reacted first to head home from close range after Remie Street’s header had comeback off the upright, but again Vale were disappointed when the referee ruled it out for offside.
The home side then made sure of the three points in the 82nd minute when substitute Chris Maguire raced from the halfway line unchallenged to fire home.
There were three changes in the Vale starting eleven to face Oxford United as Michael Brown’s side lined up to play their second game over the Easter period.
Scott Tanser came in at left back, in place of Kiko, Remie Streete returned to the heart of the Vale defence with Andre Bikey sat on the bench and Billy Reeves was on from the start.
Skipper Ben Purkiss was ruled out through injury, so Ryan Taylor slotted in at right back and Reeves filled the gap in the middle of the park. Sam Foley took on the role of captain.
Vale started the game confidently and created two chances early on in the game when both Chris Eagles and Danny Pugh fired wide of the target.
Billy Reeves was soon showing why boss Michael Brown had no fears in starting the young midfielder, who was showing a maturing beyond his years.
The visitors were piling on the pressure and had the ball in the net on 13 minutes when Nathan Smith challenged the ‘keeper, but the referee ruled it was done unfairly.
GOAL:A minute later the home side scored with their first real attack of the game. Deniz Mehmet pushed away Johnson’s initial shot, but Josh Ruffels was on hand to stick the loose ball past the Vale ‘keeper and into the net.
Vale kept plugging away and were almost rewarded when a neat little move nearly paid off, with a shot from Chris Eagles, which wasn’t too far off target.
If Mehmet had been at fault for the Oxford goal, he certainly made amends on the half hour when the home side were awarded a free kick 22 yards out following a foul by Sam Foley.
Rob Hall touched the ball to his left and Marvin Johnson hit a fierce low drive to test the Vale ‘keeper, who went down low to his right to palm the ball away.
Mehmet was called upon again just moments later when Johnson looked to take full advantage of a slip by Ryan Taylor but his angled shot was pushed away by the Vale ‘keeper before Remie Streete hacked the ball to safety.
Remie Streete picked up a yellow card for a particularly strong, but somewhat mis-timed challenge on Johnson and thankfully nothing came from the free kick.
JJ Hooper had a chance in first half stoppage time when he met a left wing cross from Scott Tanser, but his glancing header was held comfortably by Oxford ‘keeper Simon Eastwood.
Vale made a change at the start of the second half when JJ Hooper was replaced up front by Dan Turner, with Vale hoping that fresh legs could work in their favour.
Turner was soon in action within 30 seconds of the restart, but his overhead kick was smothered by Eastwood in the Oxford goal.
Cicilia tested Eastwood with a snap header when he met a right wing cross from Ryan Taylor, but Vale were not doing too much to test the home side in the final third.
Vale made a change in the 57th minute when Sam Kelly was introduced into the fray as a replacement for Reeves.
Two minutes later Eastwood was in action again, this time doing well to fingertip a header from Remie Streete over his crossbar.
Substitute Hemmings had a chance to wrap it up for the home side midway through the second half when he was through on goal, only to fire wide.
A minute later Vale had a second goal ruled out when Streete’s header came back off the post and Dan Turner was on hand to nod over the line from close range, only to be adjudged to be in an offside position.
With twenty minutes remaining Vale made a third change with the introduction of Anthony de Freitas with Scott Tanser going off.
With Vale going in search of an equaliser, Turner tested Eatswood, who did well to turn his shot around the upright for a Vale corner.
GOAL:Nathan Smith got caught on the halfway line allowing Oxford substitute Chris Maguire a clear run at goal, and he didn’t disappoint the home support, slotting the ball in the far corner to double the home side’s lead.
Sam Foley almost hit a consolation goal in stoppage time after forcing his way into the box, but again Eastwood was in top form, somehow getting his fingers to the shot at the expense of a corner kick.
OXFORD UNITED:Simon Eastwood, Joe Skarz, John Lundstram, Curtis Nelson, Conor McAleny, Josh Ruffels, Phil Edwards, Jow Rothwell, Rob Hall, Charlie Raglan, Marvin Johnson. SUBS: Jack Stevens, Christian Ribeiro, Chris McGuire, Kane Hemmings, Sam Long, Chey Dunkley, Canice Carroll.
PORT VALE:Deniz Mehmet, Remie STreete, Ryan Taylor, Rigino Cicilia, JJ Hooper, Sam Foley, Danny Pugh, Scott Tanser, Nathan Smith, Billy Reeves, Chris Eagles. SUBS: Sam Kelly, Kiko, Leo Fasan, Andre Bikey, Dan Turner, James Gibbons, Anthony de Freitas