Saturday 22nd March 2014
Port Vale v Tranmere RoversAt Vale Park
Attendance: 5,449 including 677 visiting supporters
Chris Neal, Adam Yates, Jack Grimmer, Richard Duffy, Carl Dickinson, Jennison Myrie-Williams, Anthony Griffith, Billy Knott, Doug Loft, Ben Williamson, Tom Pope. SUBS:
Sam Johnson, Chris Robertson, Dan Jones, Louis Dodds, Gavin Tomlin, Chris Birchall, Jordan Hugill
Owain Fon Williams, Junior Brown, Ash Taylor, James Wallace, Ryan Lowe, Jake Cassidy, Jake Kirby, Max Power, Jason Koumas, Liam Ridehalgh, Stephen Arthurworrey. SUBS:
Evan Horwood, Ian Goodison, Andy Robinson, James Rowe, Cole Stockton, Jason Mooney.
Vale took all three points in what can only be described as a five goal thriller at Vale Park, in a game which either side could have won.
Goals from Tom Pope, Billy Knott and Ben Williamson put Vale well in the driving seat, but two goals in two minutes from the visitors ensured a nailbiting finish to the game, with supporters from both sides on the edge of their seats.
Micky Adams made one change to the side that was held by Coventry City at Sixfields in Vale's previous game, Anthony Griffith returning to the fray in place of the suspended Chris Lines.
Vale had the perfect start to the game, taking the lead after just two and a half minutes, with a move started and finished by the same player.
GOAL: TOM POPEspread the ball out wide to the right then took up his position inside the box and Ben Williamson flicked on Adam Yates’ cross, allowing Pope to pick his spot, slamming home past Owain Fon Williams from close range.
Vale were looking up for it and were well in command in the opening stages of the game, despite the visitors attempts to get the ball up early enough to cause their own problems.
While it is a bit unfair on the visitors to say Vale were looking comfortable, they were hardly looking under threat and were certainly the stronger of the two outfits on show.
Former Vale target Ryan Lowe did have the ball in the net in the 16th minute but the whistle had already been blown for offside.
Then when Jake Cassidy was put through with a clear run on goal, Chris Neal reacted quickly, sprinting off his line to collect at the feet of the Tranmere striker.
It was a warning Vale needed to heed if they were to go on to win the game, especially after defensive mistakes had cost Vale in their previous game.
Doug Loft hit the side-netting in the 27h minutes after being teed up by Myrie-Williams, then two minutes later Jake Kirby did the same for the visitors two minutes later.
Tranmere were looking increasingly dangerous as the game went on and Lowe perhaps will have thought he should have done better when he blazed over the bar from close quarters.
Vale went close to adding a second, but although Pope got a head to Mayrie-Williams left wing flag kick, he didn’t quite manage to get over the ball and his header cleared the bar.
Cassidy then just nudged a low cross from Power inches wide of the far post, with the visitors again looking well capable of grabbing an equaliser.
The players had to endure a short hailstorm, which gave the playing surface a thin white covering, but play continued as normal.
Whatever may have been said in the dressing room at half time certainly appeared to have a positive effect on the home side as the doubled their lead in the 47th minute.
GOAL:Adam Yates and Ben Williamson were both involved, before BILLY KNOTT hit a screamer of a shot into the bottom right hand corner of the net, leaving Williams with no hope of stopping it.
The game suddenly exploded into lif with a further three goals in the space of five minutes and after an hour it was still anybody’s game.
GOAL: Vale increased their lead in the 55th minute when BEN WILLIAMSON latched on to Pope’s knock down to scramble the bal past Williams from close range.
GOAL:But Tranmere hit back with two goals of their own – the first in the 58th minute when ASH TAYLOR nodded the ball over the line at the back post.
GOAL:Then on the hour a long range free kick from JASON KOUMAS flew through a sea bodies, eluding everybody before hitting the back of the net to set up a nailbiting final half hour.
The visitors had rediscovered their belief and it took two saves at full stretch from Chris Neal to keep Vale’s noses narrowly in front.
Vale fans were out of their seats again in the 71st minute when a 20 yard shot from skipper Doug Loft crashed off the crossbar with the Tranmere ‘keeper well beaten.
Tom Pope then missed a gilt-edged chance to open up the gap once again when he put the ball over the yard from six yards out after being played in by Knott, following excellent approach play by Williamson.
There was bad news for the home side when Chris Neal and Tranmere’s Ian Goodison clashed inside the Vale six yard box and despite receiving treatment, the Vale ‘keeper was eventually stretchered off and replaced by Sam Johnson.
The visitors had what looked like a strong appeal for a penalty turned down and moment later Vale made another change, Chris Birchall replacing Jennison Myrie-Williams,
In the 90th minute Tom Pope latched on to a loose ball and with just the ‘keeper to beat, he looked odds on to wrap things up for the Vale, but stumbled over the ball as he attempted to round the ‘keeper and the chance had gone.
Vale made one last change in stoppage time, Jordan Hugill coming off the bench to replace Ben Williamson in the 93rd minute.