PORT VALE:Chris Neal, John McCombe, Doug Loft, Louis Dodds, Jennison Myrie-Williams, Tom Pope, Clayton McDonald, Chris Shuker, Sam Morsy, Ashley Vincent, Richard Duffy. SUBS: Sam Johnson, Rob Taylor, Gareth Owen, Adam Yates, Ben Williamson, Ryan Burge, Ryan Lloyd.
ROTHERHAM:Scott Shearer, Laurence Wilson, Ian Sharps, Johnny Mullins, Michael O’Connor, Gareth Evans, Ben Pringle, Kayode Odejayi, Daniel Nardiello, Nicky Hunt, David Noble. SUBS: Andy Warrington, Dale Tonge, Lionel Ainsworth, Jason taylor, Alex Revell, Craig Morgan,
ATTENDANCE: 5,544 including 757 visiting supporters
Once again Micky Adams sent out an unchanged starting eleven – for the sixth successive game – as Vale faced promotion favourites Rotherham United.
Vale got off to the perfect start, taking the lead on 5 minutes with a move started and finished by LOUIS DODDS.
Winning the ball in the centre circle with a shoulder barge right under the nose of the referee, he took a few paces forward then spread play by pushing the ball out right to Tom Pope.
Pope pushed it back inside for Chris Shuker, who, spotting the run of Dodds, played a lovely weighted pass into the patch of Dodds, who finished beautifully, stroking the ball past Scott Shearer in style.
Vale allowed the visitors to have the majority of possession for a spell, defending well as a unit and individually, but Vale struck for a second time in the 16th Minute.
Playing some neat passing football, involving Myrie-Williams and Shuker, the ball was eventually slipped to Richard Duffy, who crossed for TOM POPE and the formerRotherhamman made no mistake, planting a firm header into the corner of the net.
The outstretched leg of Shearer prevented Myrie-Williams from netting a third goal for the home side, and John McCombe couldn’t quite take advantage of the loose ball.
Vale were in a rampant mood and increased their lead in the 21st minute when Sam Morsy pulled the ball back for TOM POPE who slammed the ball into the back of the net for Vale’s third.
Rotherhamhardly had time to settle before Vale added a fourth goal, and pope was again involved in things, albeit from well inside his own half.
The Vale striker had been in his own 18 yard box defending, when he played a delightful long ball out left for ASHLEY VINCENT, who ran for goal before smashing the ball past Shearer from just outside the box for Vale’s fourth.
Three minutes later the visitors pulled a goal back when Ben Pringle slipped the ball into the patch of MICHAEL O’CONNOR, who slammed the ball past Chris Neal from close range.
Seven minutes into the second half the visitors had a shout for a penalty turned down when Nardiello went down inside the box, but the referee awarded a free kick right on the edge of the box.
It took a while for the free kick to be taken, but when the visitors eventually got round to it, the referee spotted a handball and awarded a penalty kick.
The decision seemed a bit on the harsh side, but then the previous incident should have resulted in a spot kick so in a way, justice was done.
DANIEL NARDIELLOstepped up to take the kick and made no mistake from the spot, hammering the ball low into Neal’s left hand corner.
The visitors had certainly not given up hope of getting a favourable result, and nor should they. Vale needed to pull everything out of the locker to keep Steve Evans’ men at bay.
It was Vale, however, who struck next. The home side was awarded a free kick out on the left after a foul on Myrie-Williams. Chris Shuker’s free kick took a wicked deflection and looked to be heading into the net, but TOM POPE was on hand to make sure from close range to complete his hat trick.
On 78minutes TOM POPE struck again. Two Millers’ defenders tried to knock the ball about whilst being hassled by the Vale striker and eventually made a mess of it and Pope was on hand to take full advantage with his fourth goal.
The last Vale player to score four goals in a game was Akpo Sodje – he hit his four against Rotherham United at Millmoor in March 2007.
Vale made a change on 79 minute with Gareth Owen coming on for Clayton McDonald and then three minutes later on came Rob Taylor for Jennison Myrie-Williams.
In the 88th minute Vale made their third and final change when Ben Williamosn came off the bench to replace Ashley Vincent.