Tuesday 11th February 2014
Port Vale v Colchester UnitedAt Vale Park
Attendance: 3,734 including 89 visiting supporters
PORT VALE:Chris Neal, Adam Yates, Jack Grimmer, Joe Davis, Carl Dickinson, Doug Loft, Chris Lines, Anthony Griffith, Daniel Jones, Jordan Hugill, Tom Pope. SUBS: Sam Johnson, Louis Dodds, Jennison Myrie-Williams, Gavin Tomlin, Ben Williamson, Chris Birchall, Billy Knott
COLCHESTER UNITED:Sam Walker, David Wright, Ryan Dickson, Magnus Okuonghae, Craig Eastmond, Sanchez Watt, Clinton Morrison, Marcus Bean, Tom Eastman, Brian Wilson, Dominic Rose. SUBS: Mark Cousins, Freddie Sears, Jabo Ibehre, Gavin Massey, Alex Gilbey, Tosin Olufemi, Alie Sesay
At last Vale put their recent defensive worries well and truly behind them with a well deserved clean sheet and just as importantly three valuable points.
Vale had to weather the pressure at times during the game as the visitors looked for any defensive frailties, but the home side applied themselves well when called upon.
The difference between the two sides in the end was two goals from skipper Doug Loft, one scored in each half, to send a small crowd back home with smiles on their faces.
Vale boss Micky Adams had threatened to make changes following the defeat to Swindon Town and he was as good as his word.
Chris Robertson was left out and Jack Grimmer moved inside to occupy the centre half role vacated by the former Preston defender and in came Adam Yates at right back.
In midfield, Billy Knott and Jennison Myrie-William dropped to the bench to be replaced by Anthony Griffith and Daniel Jones, while Jordan Hugill came in to replace Gavin Tomlin up front as partner to Tom Pope.
The first real goalscoring opportunity of the game came in the 10th minute when Anthony Griffith won a free kick 25 yards from goal.
Chris Lines lined the ball up and curled it around the wall, aiming for the bottom right hand corner of the net but is flew inches wide of the upright.
Vale looked to be more solid as a defensive unit, but they were playing attacking football and they were rewarded for that approach in the 15th minute.
GOAL:Daniel Jones sent in a low cross from the left and in came DOUG LOFT to sweep the ball home in a similar style to the one he scored against Swindon Town in Vale’s previous game.
Vale came within a whisker of a second goal and it was the same combination again, Jones hitting a low cross into the area, but this time a slight deflection put the ball just beyond the reach of Loft and Vale had to settle for a corner kick.
The crowd may have been just a little bit jittery whenever Colchester went forward, and understandably so give the last three results, but the defence did its job and continued to look solid and in command.
A 25 yard free kick from Colchester defender Brian Wilson failed to trouble Chris Neal, who reached out and held comfortably.
But seconds later Dominic Vose went close to an equaliser when he cut inside on the left and unleashed a powerful drive that had Neal beaten, but thankfully whistled just past the far post.
The visitors’ attacks were becoming increasingly frequent, something Vale needed to do something about if they were to hold on to their lead.
Sam Walker in the Colchester goal made a point blank save to deny Tom Pope as half time approached and the feeling was that Vale could do with a second goal.
The snow began to fall quite heavily during the half time interval, but thankfully it has stopped by the time the teams came out for the second half.
The visitors started the second period brightly with Vale being forced to defend deep as Colchester went looking for an early equaliser.
GOAL:Vale shoed true grit and determination and again they were rewarded, adding a second goal in the 53rd minute when Carl Dickinson sent the ball in for DOUG LOFT who gratefully fired home.
A minute later the visitors had a close escape when they failed to clear and it looked like Joe Davis may prod the ball home from close range, only to have the ball whipped away from him at the crucial moment.
Barely sixty second after coming on as a substitute, Freddie Sears tested Chris Neal with a crisp angled drive, but the Vale ‘keeper was its equal, getting f=down at his near post to turn the ball behind for a corner.
Pope flicked a header on for strike partner Jordan Hugill as Vale went looking for a third goal, but the youngster didn’t manage to keep his shot down and Walker watched as the ball floated harmlessly over his crossbar.
It was Colchester who were pressing hardest, however, and an away goal looked increasingly inevitable, but Vale then made a second substitution to give the visitors something to think about at the other end.
The manager decided to take off Hugill and inject a bit of pace into the Vale attack with the introduction of Ben Williamson in the 76th minute.
Anthony Griffith put in one of his crunching tackles in the 87th minute but came out worse for the wear and he was replaced by Billy Knott.
Vale made their final substitution of the night in stoppage time with the introduction of Louis Dodds for Tom Pope.