Saturday 28th September 2013
Tranmere Rovers v Port Vale
At Prenton Park
5,334 including 1,196 visiting supporters
Owain Fon Williams, Ash Taylor, Tom Hateley, Joe Thompson, Ryan Lowe, Chris Arkinson, Cole Stockton, Adam Dugdale, Liam Ridehalgh, Jean-Lewis Akpa Akpro. SUBS:
Ian Goodison, Abdilai Baggie, Sam Ramsbotton, Max Power, Akpo Sodje, Liam Davies Callum Morris
Chris Neal, Adam Yates, Chris Robertson, Carl Dickinson, Liam Chilvers, Doug Loft, Ben Williamson, Chris Birchall, Tom Pope, Chris Lines, Anthony Griffith. SUBS:
Sam Johnson, Lee Hughes, Richard Duffy, Louis Dodds, Jennison Myrie-Williams, Kaid Mohamed, Joe Davis
Vale managed to shake off the disappointment of a first half penalty miss to come back and take all three points at Prenton Park thanks to a Chris Lines second half free kick.
Tom Pope was the guilty party, his spot kick being superbly saved by Owain Fon Williams after Chris Birchall had been upended inside the box, but Vale got the three points after Lines curled a 20 yard free kick into the top corner of the net.
Rob Page made two changes to the starting eleven for his first game in charge, deciding to go with the side that finished Vale’s previous match against Coventry City.
Ben Williamson made a big difference when he came off the bench against the Sky Blues, as did Chris Birchall, and so they were preferred over Louis Dodds and Jennison Myrie-Williams.
As had been promised earlier in the week, Vale went on the attack right from the start of the game, putting their hosts on the back foot as they poured forward.
Vale were almost caught out though in the 7th minute when Akpa Akpro pushed the ball past an advancing Chris Neal only to put his angled shot into the side-netting.
Four minutes later Vale went within a whisker of taking the lead when Doug Loft was allowed to run on as the home defence backed off and his 20 yard shot beat the ‘keeper, only to hit the foot of his left upright.
Ben Williamson was denied by the ‘keeper’s legs after initially losing the whereabouts of the ball as it dropped over his head, before he regained his composure to drill in a low shot.
Loft then picked up a pass from Anthony Griffith and again ran at goal before sending an angled shot past Owain Fon Williams in the Tranmere goal, but also past the far post.
Chris Birchall was put through on goal and his shot, as he was falling, hit the woodwork, but he had been impeded and so the referee pointed to the penalty spot and red-carded Tranmere’s Liam Ridehalgh.
Tom Pope placed the ball on the spot and hammered the ball to Fon WIliams’ left, but the ‘keeper responded superbly to make the save, touching the ball around the post.
Ben Williamson received a yellow card in a bizarre incident when a defender dived in from behind him to head the ball and collided with the Vale striker’s foot – there seemed to be nothing he could do to avoid it, but he was cautioned anyway.
GOAL: Vale finally went in front ten minutes into the second half. Tom Pope was fouled and CHRIS LINES curled the free kick into the top left hand corner of the net from 20 yards.
Vale continued to look dangerous, without giving Fon Williams an awful lot to do, with Birchall and Loft each going close to extending Vale’s lead, but not hitting the target.
The work rate of Loft and also Griffith caught the eye on several occasions as both played an inspirational part in keeping the visitors on top.
Vale made their first change in the 73rd minute with the introduction of fresh legs in the shape of Jennison Myrie-Williams, who came on for Birchall.
Vale made a second substitution in the 82nd minute, Lee Hughes coming off the bench to take the place of a tiring Ben Williamson in the Vale attack.
Hughes almost had an instant impact, meeting a chipped cross from Myrie-Williams with a header which was palmed away only as far as Pope, who was also denied by Fon Williams.
Although the home side pressed hard for an equaliser in the closing minutes of the game, Vale deservedly took the maximum points back to Burslem with them.