Port Vale v Chesterfield
At Vale Park
Attendance:5,298 including 618 visiting supporters
PORT VALE:Chris Neal, John McCombe, Doug Loft, Jennison Myrie-Williams, Ashley Vincent, Tom Pope, Clayton McDonald, Calvin Andrew, Kingsley James, Ryan Burge, Richard Duffy.
SUBS:Sam Johnson, Adam Yates, Rob Taylor, Louis Dodds, Chris Shuker, Ben Williamson, Liam Chilvers.
CHESTERFIELD:Tommy Lee, Drew Tal;bot, Nathan Smith, Sam Hird, Liam Cooper, Luis Boa Morte, Sam Togwell, Mark Randall, Jay O’Shea, Tendayi Darikwa, Marc Richards.
SUBS:Richard O’Donnell, Terrell Forbes, Danny Whitaker, Jack Lester, Craig Clay, Conor Townsend, Brennen Dickenson
Vale lined up pretty much as expected apart from the inclusion of Calvin Andrew in place of Ben Williamson as they faced an in-form Chesterfield including four former Valiants in their squad.
Tom Pope, Richard Duffy and Ryan Burge all returned after serving one match suspensions and skipper Doug Loft came back into the starting line-up.
In the Chesterfield starting eleven was former Vale striker Marc Richards and two former Val loanees in Sam Togwell and Jay O’Shea, whist Danny Whitaker had to settle for a place on the bench.
In a frantic start to the game there were chances at both ends of the pitch. A screamer from Chesterfield’s Mark Randall was tipped over the bar by Chris Neal at one end, then a shot from Tom Pope was deflected for a corner kick.
Vale began to assert themselves very early in the match, but before long the visitors showed they were not content to sit back and soak it up, they too were quite prepared to pile on the pressure.
Both sides had players of quality in their midst and it was making for a fascinating encounter as each of the two tried to establish themselves and get the upper hand.
A 25 yard free kick taken by Marc Richards was pushed away by Neal and cleared. Despite having little to do, Neal was arguably the busier of the two goalkeepers during a first half in which the two defensives looked fairly solid.
The visitors looked quite lively and played as if to suggest their recent run of form was no fluke. They looked dangerous on the ball and were not allowing Vale to play their natural attacking game.
GOAL:Chesterfield deservedly took the lead in the 37th minute. Richards held the ball up just inside the 18 yard box before squaring for JAY O’SHEA, who coolly slotted the ball low to Neal’s right for a goal on his Spireites’ debut.
He crowd expected Vale to come out in the second half all guns blazing, but in truth they looked a little nervous and it was the visitors who started the brighter of the two sides.
O’Shea almost caught out Chris Neal with a cheeky lofted shot from just inside Vale’s half after he spotted the Vale ‘keeper off his line, but Neal managed to back-pedal to make the save.
In the 59th minute Micky Adams decided on a double substitution to try to shake things up. On came Rob Taylor and Chris Shuker, with Calvin Andrew and Kingsley James going the other way.
Doug Loft was again pushed up into Vale’s midfield, with Taylor taking over the now vacated left back spot.
GOAL:The move was obviously designed to get Vale back into the game, but it was the visitors who struck just five minutes later when TENDAYI DARIKWA headed down a deflected left wing cross from Richards.
A foul on Doug Loft by Luis Boa Morte was punished, perhaps a little harshly, with a yellow card and from the resulting free kick Vale almost pulled a goal back.
The ball was pumped into the box by Shuker and Pope’s looping header was tipped onto the top of the crossbar by Spireites’ ‘keeper Tommy Lee.
Vale had what looked like valid appeals for a penalty kick turned down when Pope went down inside the box in the 75th minute.
The home side played their final throw of the dice with a third and final substitution two minutes later with Louis Dodds coming off the bench to take the place of Doug Loft.
It was a disappointing performance from the Vale. They struggled to test Tommy Lee all afternoon and the visitors fully deserved their victory.