Saturday 8th February 2014
Port Vale v Swindon TownAt Vale Park
Attendance: 5,306 including 284 visiting supporters
PORT VALE:Chris Neal, Jack Grimmer, Chris Robertson, Joe Davis, Carl Dickinson, Jennison Myrie-Williams, Chris Lines, Billy Knott, Doug Loft, Tom Pope, Gavin Tomlin. SUBS: Adam Yates, Louis Dodds, Sam Johnson, Ben Williamson, Chris Birchall, Jordan Hugill, Daniel Jones
SWINDON TOWN:Wes Foderingham, Nathan Thompson, Nathan Byrne, Massimo Luongo, Nile Ranger, Alex Pritchard, Dany N'Guessan, Louis Thompson, Darren Ward, Michael Smith, Troy Archibald-Henville. SUBS:Tuane Freitas Reis, Lee Cox, Tyrell Belford, Raphael Rossi Branco, Jamie Reckord, Ben Gladwin, Jacob Murphy
Vale let a two-goal lead slip, as the visitors scored three second half goals to seriously dent the Valiants' play-off aspirations at Vale Park in difficult conditions.
Skipper Doug Loft had put the home side in front and although Vale were not in particularly good form, they looked like they were on for a win when Tom Pope increased the lead right on half time.
The Robins hit back with goals from Nile Ranger, Alex Pritchard and Nathan Byrne and never looked like relinquishing their lead and fully deserved the three points.
Micky Adams made three changes from the side which were beaten at Gillingham in Vale’s previous game, opting to bring in Carl Dickinson in place of Daniel Jones in defence.
His other two changes saw Jennison Myrie-Williams replace Louis Dodds on the right and a full debut for Billy Knott, meaning Anthony Griffith had to settle for a place on the bench.
A flurry of corners for the visitors in the opening minutes of the game tested Vale’s resolve and also the success of the extra work done throughout the week on defending set-pieces.
Both sides were finding the conditions difficult to deal with – swirling winds didn’t help at all and that, along with the condition of the pitch was hardly conducive for a spectacle of a match.
Vale had a let off in the 18th minute when Swindon right back Nathan Thompson picked out an unmarked Alex Pritchard at the far post, but the Robins’ midfielder failed to hit the target with the goal at his mercy.
GOAL:Two minutes later Vale took full advantage, getting their noses in front when Jennison Myrie-Williams nicked the ball across from the right and in came skipper DOUG LOFT to smash the ball home from close range.
Vale were certainly not having things all their own way as the visitors pressed to get on level terms, but the home side generally defended well and deserved to stay in front.
All of Vale’s defensive work was rewarded in the 41st minute when Vale managed to increase their lead, and it was top scorer Tom Pope who got the goal.
GOAL:Tomlin and Loft combined to keep the ball out left near to the corner flag and eventually Loft sent the ball into the box, Chris Lines got the slightest of touches with his head to help the ball on.
The home side had the chance to clear, but TOM POPE got in a shot which was initially parried by Foderingham, but it trickled over the line.
GOAL:The visitors started the second half well and soon pulled a goal back. Pritchard crossed with his left foot from the right and NILE RANGER was able to head home with ease at the back post.
Vale were in danger of getting overrun as the Robins continued to press deep inside Vale’s half, so the manager did something about it in the 56th minute.
Obviously feeling Vale needed a bit more ‘steel’ on the pitch, Anthony Griffith came off the bench to take up his position in the middle of the park, with Gavin Tomlin making way.
The visitors went close to levelling the scores within the space of three minutes, twice denied by the woodwork. Firstly Michael Smith struck the upright from the edge of the box and then Ranger hit the crossbar from 15 yards.
GOAL:It had been on the cards for a while, but the equaliser was executed in the 65th minute was a delight for the neutral, if not for the home supporters.
Chris Lines gave away a free kick 25 yards from goal and ALEX PRITCHARD took his time lining up the ball, before smashing the ball past Chris Neal.
GOAL:Three minutes later things went from bad to worse. Michael Smith sent the ball across the face of the Vale goal and, challenged by Neal, NATHAN BYRNE managed to get a toe to the ball to prod home and give the visitors a deserved lead.
A minute later Vale made their second change. Billy Knott was replaced by Jordan Hugill in a tactical change which saw Vale revert back to two up front.
Still Vale struggled to make any headway, with the visitors looking by far the better side, perhaps feeling they could have increased their lead with a bit of luck.
Vale made a third change in the 84th minute, Ben Williamson coming on for Tom Pope as the manager decided to go with the two who had finished the game at Gillingham in Vale’s previous match.