Saturday 13th April 2013At Spotland
Rochdale v Port Vale
Attendance: 5042 including approximately 3,000 visiting supporters (not announced)
ROCHDALE: Josh Lillis, Joe Rafferty, Peter Cavanagh, Shane Cansdell-Sherriff, Jason Kennedy, George Donnelly, Ashley Grimes, Phil Edwards, Bobby Grant, Michael Rose, Ian Henderson
SUBS: Brian Barry-Murphy, Steve Collins, Kevin McIntrye, Joel Logan, Terry Gornell, Callum Camps, Wayne Thomas
PORT VALE: Chris Neal, Adam Yates, Anthony Griffith, Liam Chilvers, Darren Purse, Doug Loft, Jennison Myrie-Williams, Tom Pope, Louis Dodds, Lee Hughes, Daniel Jones
SUBS: Sam Johnson, John McCombe, Chris Shuker, Chris Birchall, Ben Williamson, Richard Duffy, Sam Morsy
Vale had the better of the opening exchanges but were unable to break own the home defence, who were relying an awful lot on catching Vale offside.
Chris Neal was the first of the two ‘keepers to be called into action when he dropped down to the foot of his right hand post to hold a low drive from Joe Rafferty.
The game was fairly evenly matched with neither side managing to create any clear cut chances.
The home side were down to ten men for a few minutes after a clash of heads between Anthony Griffith and Jason Kennedy, with the Rochdale man forced off for treatment.
Vale almost went in front in the 29th minute when a long kick from Chris Neal dropped over the back of the home defence and Lee Hughes managed to get on the end of it to try a cheekp chip which unfortunately went over the bar.
GOAL:Within a minute it was the home side who got their noses in front when LIAM CHILVERS attempted to nod the ball back to his goalkeeper, catching Chris Neal flat footed for an own goal.
GOAL:Vale were level within four minutes. Hugging the ball close to the corner flag, Lee Hughes knocked it back for Adam Yates and his cross was met by the head of TOM POPE and the result was inevitable.
The goal seemed to give Vale fresh impetus as they began to attack with a bit of a swagger, looking like they could score at will.
They came within a whisker of a second goal just minutes later when Josh Lillis dived full length to push a curling effort from Jennison Myrie-Williams around his left hand post.
Myrie-Williams took the resulting flag kick himself , sending the ball towards the back post for Tom Pope, who was bundled over, but the referee waved away what looked like valid appeals for a penalty kick.
The home side had the upper edge in the opening minutes of the second half but, despite his earlier misfortune, Chilvers was a rock in the heart of the Vale defence - he and Darren Purse refused to let anything pass.
The home side almost regained the lead, however, when in the 5th minute Chris Neal’s kick struck Ian Henderson and the ball flew back at goal, narrowly missing the target.
Myrie-Williams almost put Vale ahead for the first time in the match when he cut inside from the left and let fly, but the ball flew just past the top corner of the goal.
Lee Hughes wasn’t too far from getting on the end of a cross from Adam Yates after the full back had done well down the right flank – perhaps it was just the lack of hair that prevented Hughes from making good contact.
It was turning into a nail-biter, with play switching from one end to the other, neither side giving the opposing goalkeeper too much to do.
Vale made a change in the 78th minute with Micky Adams opting for the fresh legs of Ben Williamson, withdrawing Lee Hughes.
Jason Kennedy wasted a golden opportunity to put the home side back in front in the 81st minute when he blazed high over the crossbar from close range.
Vale made a second substitution in the 82nd minute with Chris Shuker coming off the bench as a replacement for Louis Dodds.
Vale made a third substitution in the 88th minute when Chris Birchall came on for Jennison Myrie-Williams and a minute later Vale went in front for the first time in the game.
GOAL:Vale won a free kick out on the left and Chris Shuker sent in a lovely-flighted dead ball which was met by the head of LIAM CHILVERS who made no mistake.
GOAL:But in the third minute of stoppage time the home side hit back to put Vale’s promotion celebrations on hold when JASON KENNEDY levelled the scores from close range.