Saturday 9th March 2013Port Vale v Southend United
At Vale Park
4,858 including 214 visiting supporters
Chris Neal, Richard Duffy, Liam Chilvers, Darren Purse, Rob Taylor, Jennison Myrie-Williams, Sam Morsy, Anthony Griffith
, Chris Shuker, Tom Pope, Lee Hughes.
Adam Yates, John McCombe, Louis Dodds, Ashley Vincent, Calvin Andrew, Ben Williamson, Chris Birchall
Paul Smith, Sean Clohessy, Anthony Straker, Bilel Mohsni, Britt Assombalonga, Michael Spillane, Luke Prosser, Matthew Lund, Ryan Leonard, Ryan Cresswell, Kevan Hurst
Daniel Bentley, Alex Woodyard, Freddy Eastwood, John Spicer, Neil Harris, Barry Corr
Micky Adams made four changes for the visit of Southend United, two enforced and another two besides, as Vale looked to get back to winning ways at Vale Park following a recent lapse.
In came Sam Morsy as a replacement for the suspended Doug Loft and Rob Taylor was pitched in at left back for an injured Daniel Jones.
The other two changes were the inclusion of Lee Hughes as strike partner to Tom Pope, in place of Louis Dodds, and Chris Shuker who came in on the left to take over the duties of Ashley Vincent.
Neither side managed to create anything in a scrappy opening few minutes to the game, in which passes went astray and tackles flew in fast and furious.
It was just as frustrating for both sets of supporters as neither side managed to shine, but a run from deep inside his own penalty area did manage to wake up the home supporters.
He ran the length of the pitch, leaving blue shirts in his wake, before switching the ball left for Shuker, just inside the 18 yard box, his attempted cross was easily cleared.
In the 19th minute the referee made what appeared to be a very harsh decision when he awarded the visitors a penalty after Darren Purse slid in on Matthew Lund to put the ball out for a corner. Just to rub salt in Vale’s wounds, Purse was also shown a yellow card.
GOAL: SEAN CLOHESSYspotted the ball and then struck it firmly into Chris Neal’s top left hand corner, giving the Vale ‘keeper no chance of getting near to it.
If that was the kick up the backside Vale needed, then it didn’t particularly show as there was little improvement in the standard of play from the home side.
The visitors looked like they could cause Vale problems whenever they liked, with the home side looking a shadow of the side that started the season.
GOAL:Southend extended their lead in the 31st minute when they were allowed to glide through the Vale defence like a hot knife through butter and BRITT ASSOMBALONGA dealt the finishing blow, firing past Chris Neal.
Vale had a let off on the stroke of half time when the ball came out to Ryan Leonard and his first time shot from 20 yards crashed against the Bale crossbar.
Vale had some serious talking to do during the half time interval if they were to claw something back from a game in which they had rarely threatened in the opening forty five minutes.
Vale made a double substitution at the start of the second half. Chris Birchall came on for Jennison Myrie-Williams and John McCombe replaced Darren Purse.
One could argue all day about whether the changes made a difference, but Vale certainly didn’t look any more threatening than they did during the first half.
Still the Southend defence stood firm, still the home crowd was frustrated by what they were seeing, and Vale still did very little to suggest they would get themselves back into the game.
Visiting ‘keeper Paul Smith finally had something to do in the 63rd minute when Richard Duffy and Tom Pope combined to set up a half chance for Chris Birchall, who was denied by Smith, who touched the ball over the bar.
GOAL:From the resulting corner Vale gave themselves some hope when the ball fell to LEE HUGHES, whose header crept inside Smith’s right hand post.
Roared on by an expectant crowd, Vale finally came to life. There was a bit more urgency in their play and a bit more belief they could get something out of the game.
Vale piled on the pressure without any reward, though Hughes went close when his close range effort was deflected over the bar for a corner by Michael Spillane.
Vale had appeals for a penalty turned down when Morsy went down inside the box, but in fairness any decision to give a spot kick would have been harsh on the visitors.
In the 87h minute Vale made their third and final substitution – Calvin Andrew coming on for Chris Shuker.