Saturday 1st January 2014
Preston North End v Port ValeAt Deepdale
Attendance: 10,653 including 1,136 visiting supporters
PRESTON: Declan Rudd, Tom Clarke, Bailey Wright, Lee Holmes, Paul Gallagher, Joe Garner, David Buchanan, John Welsh, Jack King, Iain Hulme, Neil Kilkenny. SUBS: Thorsten Stuckmann, Keith KeaneScott Laird, Chris Humphrey, Kevin Davies, Stuart Beavon, Josh Brownhill
PORT VALE: Sam Johnson, Adam Yates, Liam Chilvers, Richard Duffy, Carl Dickinson, Louis Dodds, Chris Birchall, Chris Shuker, Doug Loft, Gavin Tomlin, Tom Pope. SUBS: Chris Neal, Jennsion Myrie-Williams, Ryan Lloyd, Chris Robertson, Gary O'Neil, Jordan Hugill, Ben Williamson
Vale left Deepdale empty handed despite a gallant fight back after trailing three-nil at one point in the game after Joe Garner (2) and Iain Hulme had put the home side in command.
Gavin Tomlin gave the Vale some hope when he pulled a goal back for the Valiants and then substitute Jordan Hugill pulled another goal back.
Vale certainly believed they could snatch a point and looked like they may succeed in doing so, but in they end they couldn’t quite manage a third goal.
Vale made two changes to the starting eleven to face Preston North End at Deepdale in the opening fixture on 2014. Anthony Griffith was ruled out after picking up a fifth yellow card of the season against Rotherham United, earning himself a one-match suspension.
Chris Lines suffered a rib injury in the same game and was unable to take part. Micky Adams decided to bring Chris Birchall and Chris Shuker into the starting eleven, whilst Chris Neal and Gary O'Niel were both on the bench.
The home side went close twice in the opening five minutes, Holmes firing high over the crossbar in the first minute then a free kick from Gallagher almost causing problems.
Gallager put the ball low into the box from left of the penalty area and it went past everybody, almost catching out Vale ‘keeper Sam Johnson, who got down by his left hand post to make the save.
It was Vale who were looking the better of the two sides, however, roared on by a vociferous following behind Johnson’s goal.
Louis Dodds thought he had beat the offside and had just ‘keeper Declan Rudd to beat, but somehow missed the target – thankfully the referee’s assistant had flagged offside anyway.
Joe Garner, who scored both goals in North End’s win at Vale Park in November had a great chance to put the home side ahead with a close range header but he missed the target and again the flag went up for offside, so that wouldn’t have counted either.
The game was fairly even at this point with both sides having their moments when they threatened to make the breakthrough, but neither side doing quite enough.
The home side had a goal scoring opportunity on the half hour when a right wing corner taken by Holmes was only half cleared, but Gallagher fired over the bar from just outside the box.
Gavin Tomlin burst through the middle, beating two Preston defenders before shooting from 15 yards and skimming the crossbar – the referee felt it got a slight deflection and awarded Vale a corner, but nothing came from it.
GOAL:Vale fell behind in the 43rd minute when the home side worked the ball across the pitch to Holmes on the right flank and his cross was met at the far post by JOE GARNER, whose downward header gave Johnson no chance.
It wasn’t the first time Holmes had been given time and space to get in a cross from the right and within 40 seconds of the restart he was at it again.
This time Holmes’ cross was met by the head of Iain Hulme and the former Tranmere striker watched as Johnson was beaten, but thankfully for Vale it clipped the outside of the far post.
GOAL:Three minutes later HULME wasn’t to be denied, hammering the ball past the Vale ‘keeper to double the home side’s lead.
Vale now had it all to do but the home side went close again, Garner nodding on for Hulme to run on to, but Johnson was quick off his line to smother the ball at the striker’s feet.
Vale made a double substitution in the 59th minute – Ben Williamson and Jennison Myrie-Williams coming on for Chris Shuker and Chris Birchall.
GOAL:Two minutes later Vale fell further behind. Johnson made a great save to deny Hulme but couldn’t hold on to the ball, which fell at the feet of Gallagher – he squared the ball a yard to his right to GARNER, who had time to pick his spot.
GOAL:Vale pulled a goal back in the 68th minute when a right wing cross from Myrie-Williams was met by GAVIN TOMLIN, who sent a stooping header past Rudd to put some respectability back into the scoreline.
A minute later Vale made their third and final substitution with Jordan Hugill coming off the bench to replace Tom Pope.
Vale sensed they could still salvage something from the game, kept their heads held high and pushed on at every opportunity.
Myrie-Williams went within inches of pulling a goal back with a firm head from a left wing cross from Dickinson, nodding inches over the crossbar.
GOAL:With six minutes to go Vale pulled another goal back, JORDAN HUGILL’S flicked front post header flying over Rudd into the far corner of the net – game on!
In the end Vale ran out of time, but they can all hold their heads high despite the defeat.