Saturday 5th January 2013
Port Vale 4 Plymouth Argyle 0
At Vale Park
Attendance:4,480 including 135 visiting supporters
PORT VALE: Chris Neal, John McCombe, Darren Purse, Doug Loft, Jennison Myrie-Williams, Ashley Vincent, Tom Pope, Calvin Andrew, Ryan Burge, Richard Duffy, Daniel Jones.
SUBS: Adam Yates, Rob Taylor, Louis Dodds, Chris Shuker, Sam Morsy, Chris Birchall, Lee Hughes
EXETER CITY: Artur Krysiak, Craig Woodman, Scott Bennett, Pat Balswin, Danny Coles, Matt Oakley, Arron Davies, Jamie Cureton, Tommy Doherty, Kevin Amankwaah, Mark Moseley.
SUBS: Steve Tully, John O'Flynn, Guillem Bauza, Aaron Dawson, Rhys Evans, Jake Gosling, Mark Molesley
Micky Adams named an unchanged side for the visit of Exeter City following Vale's 1-0 victory over Torquay United at Plainmoor at the weekend, with the only change coming on the bench.
After missing out through illness in Vale's previous game, Lee Hughes returned to the squad but had to make do with a place on the bench, with youth team 'keeper Ryan Boot dropping out of the squad.
The opening minutes saw a stuttering start in which neither side managed to put their stamp on the game, but the visitors showed enough to suggest they had come for the three points.
GOAL:The visitors showed their attacking intentions right from the kick off and they got their reward in the 11th minute when JAMIE CURETON bundled the ball over the line to give Exeter an early lead.
Up until that point Vale had struggled to put together any moves worthy of their lofty league position, but they stepped things up a bit following the goal.
Vale began to press he visitors back for a spell, while being fully aware of Exeter’s ability to hurt them on the break and punish Vale for any lapses in concentration.
Vale had shouts for a penalty turned down in the 19th minute when Ashley Vincent went down inside the box following a challenge by Molesley, but the referee deemed it to have been a fifty-fifty challenge and waved play on.
Vale were beginning to look much sharper and twice went close within a couple of minutes. Firstly Darren Purse saw a header hacked away from almost on the goal line, then a long shot from Doug Loft was deflected narrowly wide.
Any misgivings about Vale’s hunger had been well and truly put to bed, yet there was still the danger of an Exeter counter-attack lurking in the background.
GOAL:In the 33rd minute Vale fell further behind. Scott Bennett got on the end of a free kick from Oakley, forcing Chris Neal into making a save to his right, but DANNY COLES was on hand to pounce and put away the loose ball from close range.
Vale continued to have plenty of the ball deep inside the visitors’ half, without being able to make it count when it really mattered.
Vale made a double substitution at the start of the season half. Rob Taylor came on for Ashley Vinvent and Louis Dodds replaced Calvin Andrew.
Despite the changes, Vale appeared to be struggling to make any headway against a resolute Exeter side who were working as hard as ever for each other.
A lapse in concentration saw Molesley run straight through the Vale defence with consummate ease, but thankfully his shot failed to trouble Chris Neal, who gathered comfortably.
It was difficult to see how Vale could get themselves back into the game. They were having plenty of the ball but seemed devoid of ideas of what to do with it.
On 61 minutes Vale made a tactical move to see if that would make a difference, taking of a defender in John McCombe and sending on striker Lee Hughes.
Hughes was soon in action, crashing a 20 yard half volley just a couple of feet wide of the target.
A mix up inside the Vale box almost saw Vale pull a goal back when the ‘keeper flapped at a right wing cross by Richard Duffy, but Vale were unable to take advantage and Exeter were able to scramble the ball away.
Tom Pope went close to grabbing the goal he badly needs when he got up to meet a left wing cross from Loft, but Krysiak managed to snatch the ball from underneath his crossbar.
Exeter were reduced to ten men in the 77th minute when Mark Molesley was show a straight red card.
Louis Dodds went close to reducing the deficit in the 87th minute with a low drive which thudded off the upright and hit the ‘keeper, before he manages to scramble and snatch the loose ball with Dodds closing in on him.