Friday 18th April 2014
Port Vale v MK DonsAt Vale Park
Attendance: 5,074 including 308 visiting supporters
PORT VALE:Sam Johnson, Adam Yates, Chris Robertson, Richard Duffy, Carl Dickinson, Ryan Lloyd, Anthony Griffith, Billy Knott, Louis Dodds, Ben Williamson, Tom Pope. SUBS: Gavin Tomlin, Chris Shuker, Chris Birchall, Jordan Hugill, Nathan Smith
MK DONS:David Martin, Dean Lewington, Stephen Gleeson, Alan Smith, Izale McLeod, Dele Alli, Daniel Powell, George Baldock, Jordan Spence, Sanmi Odelusi, Matthew Kennedy. SUBS: Mark Randall, Brendan Galloway, Giorgio Rasulo, Ryan all, James Loveridge, Charlie Burns.
A second half strike from substitute Jordan Hugill was enough to see the Valiants pick up three points and leap-frog MK Dons in the table on a sunny afternoon in Burslem.
That was the good news, the bad news was the sight of top goal scorer Tom Pope being taken off on a stretcher, lasting just half an hour into the game before being replaced by the eventual match winner, Hugill.
Micky Adams made four changes to the side beaten by Notts County at Meadow Lane a week earlier. In came Adam Yates, Louis Dodds, Ben Williamson and Ryan Lloyd.
Gavin Tomlin and Chris Birchall each had to make do with a place on the bench, Joe Davis missed out with a hamstring injury and Jennison Myrie-Williams was unavailable due to illness.
The opening ten minutes of the game was uneventful, with each of the two sides struggling to dominate, though both had plenty of the ball.
But in the 11th minute the game threatened to burst into life when the visitors almost took the lead through Izale McLeod as the MK Dons striker went looking for his ninth league goal of the campaign.
Cutting inside from the right, he lifted the ball over the head of Vale ‘keeper Sam Johnson with a 20 yard strike, but the ball came back off the crossbar before being deal with.
Ryan Lloyd managed to find space at the other end. Whether his effort was meant as a shot or a low cross wasn’t clear, but there was nobody there in a white shirt to take advantage of it and the ball flew wide of the target.
McLeod managed to get in behind the Vale defence in the 25th minute, although he looked suspiciously offside, but Johnson in the Vale goal managed to snatch the ball away from him.
A minute later there was a distressing sight for all Vale fans when Tom Pope went down like a sack of potatoes after challenging for a header from a Vale corner.
It was clear he would not be able to continue and the medics were called for. After a couple of minutes he was stretchered off and Jordan Hugill sent on in his place.
Hugill soon had a chance to make his mark, but shot wide of the target when he looks odds on to score after being put through by Louis Dodds.
In the 36th minute the visitors, somewhat against the run of play, hit the crossbar for the second time when Matthew Kennedy’s 22 yard strike rattled the woodwork.
Ben Williamson struck the side-netting with half time approaching, but the two sides went in at the interval both believing an improved second hlf performance could see them taking the three points.
There was still time for the woodwork to be tested, however, this time at the other end when Carl Dickinson’s deft lob came back off the bar.
Vale deservedly went in front within two minutes of the restart following amix up between the ‘keeper David Martin and Alan Smith following a through ball from Billy Knott.
GOAL: JORDAN HUGILLtook full advantage, chesting the ball past the ‘keeper, who was ten yards off his line, before slotting home into an empty net.
Sam Johnson reacted brilliantly to keep out a close range snap shot from Daniel Powell as the visitors looked to hit back, as the game went from one end to the other.
Both sides continued to have spells of possession but each were equally determined not to be breached, though as they were trailing, the onus was on the visitors.
Vale made a second substitution in the 80th minute when Chris Birchall came off the bench to take the place of Billy Knott.
Then in the 83rd minute Ben Williamson was rested, with Gavin Tomlin taking up his place up front for the remainder of the game.