Port Vale v Bristol Rovers
Saturday 18th February 2017
At Vale Park
Attendance: 4,460 including 765 visiting supporters
Vale were forced to settle for a single point against Bristol Rovers, despite a performance which surely deserved more, when they were pegged back after taking the lead nine minutes into the second half.
Rovers defender Rob Harris turned the ball into his own net in trying to clear a low cross from Kiko, but in truth, despite there being an element of luck for the goal, it was no more than Vale deserved after being on top for much of the game up to that point.
The visitors levelled in the 79th minute when Billiy Bodin, son of former Vale assistant manager Paul, hit a superb equaliser to give his side a share of the points.
Michael Brown made four changes to the starting line-up as Vale took on Bristol Rovers looking to get the points to help lift the team away from the drop zone.
Remie Streete and Anthony de Freitas were both ruled out for between four and six weeks after picking up injuries at Millwall in midweek, and the manager decided to rest both Callum Guy and Tyler Walker.
In came Kiko, playing at left back to vacate the space left by Kjell Knops, who moved inside to the heart of the defence, Anton Forrester up front and Chris Eagles and Jerome Thomas.
You could feel the tension in the home crowd at kick off, but it didn’t appear to transmit itself to the team, who started calmly, with a determination to do well.
The visitors were forced to make a change as early as the 7th minute when right back Joe Partington went off, to be replaced by Cristian Montano.
Moments later there was reason for the Vale crowd to feel a little nervous, when Fasan spilled the ball, but he managed to get hold of it at the second attempt.
If anything, however, it appeared to lift the crowd, who began to make themselves heard, helping to lift the tea, who were certainly not showing any signs of anxiety in their play.
The Vale were taking the game to their opponents, pushing forward at every opportunity, but with nothing to show for their efforts.
A long throw from Kiko on the left created an opportunti for the Vale but Chris Eagles’ shot was blocked by a Rovers defender.
Moments later Eagles was again denied when his 25 yard effort was saved by Joe Lumley, who went down sharply to his left to make the save.
Vale were opened up three minutes after the break when former Valiants midfielder Chris Lines got in behind the defence but his angled shot drifted wide of the far post.
In the 54th minute Vale were finally rewarded for their endeavour when they took the lead, though the there is no denying the goal had an element of luck about it.
GOAL:Jerome Thomas slipped the ball into the path of Kiko, who drove the ball low into the box from the left and Rovers’ central defender Rob Harris, in an attempted clearance, clipped the ball into his own net.
If the game had needed a lift, then the goal certainly did the trick from a Vale point of view and they continued to press forward in search of a second.
Vale introduced fresh legs in the 68th minute with a double substitution. JJ Hooper was replaced by Tyler Walker and Sam Kelly came on for Chris Eagles.
In the 73rd minute Walker had to goof after going down inside the box, giving Callum Guy an opportunity to impress.
GOAL:It was the visitors who impressed, however, in the 79th minute, when Billy Bodin netted with a superbly struck shot, giving Vale ‘keeper Fasan no chance.
PORT VALE:Leo Fasan, Ben Purkiss, Kjell Knops, JJ Hooper, Sam Foley, Danny Pugh, Jerome Thomas, Anton Forrester, Kiko, Nathan Smith, Chris Eagles. SUBS: Sam Kelly, Dan Turner, Ryan Boot, Callum Guy, Tyler Walker, James Gibbons, Olamide Shidipo
BRISTOL ROVERS:Joe Lumley, Tom Lockyer, Ollie Clarke, Ellis Harrison, Chris Lines, Robert Harris, Billy Bodin, Stuart Sinclair, Rory Gaffney, Ryan Sweeney, Joe Partington. SUBS: Lee Brown, Lee Mansell, Cristian Montano, Byron Moore, Will Puddy, Luke James, Jonathan Burn