Fleetwood Town v Port Vale
At The Highbury Stadium
Saturday 4th October 2014
Attendance: 4,196 including 1306 visiting supporters
Vale’s mini-run came to an end as they were beaten for the first time since Rob Page took over when STEPHEN DOBBIN drove home a second half penalty.
Vale were forced to play the whole of the second half with ten men after Jordan Slew had received his marching orders after a petulant kick on Danny Andrew just before half time.
They still looked like they were capable of getting something out of the game, but the late spot kick ensured they went home empty handed.
Interim Vale boss Rob Page named an unchanged side for the third consecutive game as they lined up against Fleetwood Town at the Highbury Stadium looking to extend their unbeaten run under the new boss.
The only change came on the bench, where defender Chris Robertson was the unfortunate one to miss out – his place being taken by new loan signing Stėphane Zubar.
Vale began the game on the front foot, but the pitch, heavily watered before kick-off, was occasionally causing problems with the ball skidding off the turf unexpectedly at times.
Before long it was the home side who were threatening, playing some neat football, only to find the Vale defence looking rock solid,
A sharp blow to the nether regions put Michael O’Connor out of action briefly, but he was soon back in the mix, playing his part in an attacking Vale display.
For all of the home side’s neat play, there was no penetration. It was a bit like trying to knock a nail in with a stick of rock – tasty perhaps, but not really effective.
Vale went closest to opening the scoring midway through the first half when Louis Dodds played a short pass to Mark Marshall, who skipped back inside to drove in a low shot.
Fleetwood ‘keeper Chris Maxwell got down to make the save, the wet ball slipping from his fingers, but he leapt in it before it crossed the line to deny the Vale winger.
Vale went close again when Carl Dickinson whipped in a cross from the left and Tom Pope go up well to send a powerful header inches over Maxwell’s crossbar.
There was a chance for the home side when Gareth Evans took advantage of a slip by Chris Lines, played short to team mate Stephen Dobbie, but the Fleetwood forward slices his shot high and wide.
Vale were reduced to ten men in the 43rd minute when Jordan Slew reacted after tangling with Danny Andrew, aiming a kick at the Fleetwood left back.
It was a silly thing to do and nobody was too surprised to see the referee produce a red card from his pocket and subsequently the Vale player walking towards the tunnel.
Numbers reduced, it looked like the second forty five minutes could be an uphill battle for Rob Page’s men, but with Mark Marshall pushed up front to partner Tom Pope, Vale showed they were still looking for a positive result.
Vale were packing their defence when the home side ventured forward, but were very quick on the counter attack, believing in themselves despite being a man down.
Chris Lines did well to evade a sliding tackle to get in a shot, curling a low shot just beyond the far post.
Although Vale were not dominating in the way they had during the first period, they were looking quite solid and well organised.
On a rare occasion that Ryan McGivern was beaten at the far post, Steve Jordan, under pressure from the Vale defender, couldn’t direct his header on target.
Vale then went close when a beautifully-flighted cross from the left by O’Connor was met by the head of Pope at the back post and the ball skimmed the top of the crossbar.
Vale had Chris Neal to thank for keeping them in the game when he threw himself to his right to claw away a close range header from Dobbie with a save right out of the top drawer.
The ball ran loose for Dobbie to have stab again from two yards out, but again Neal was its equal, getting down well to make the block.
Moments later the Vale ‘keeper raced off his line to deny Josh Morris, who was clean through, but the Vale ‘keeper faced a different challenge in the 79th minute.
GOAL:Ryan McGivern tangled with David Ball inside the 18 yard box. The referee waved play on, but his assistant on that side caught his attention and so he pointed to the spot and Neal was sent the wrong way by STEPHEN DOBBIE.
Vale made a substitution straight after that, Ben Williamson coming on for Mark Marshall, then moments later Chris Birchall replaced Louis Dodds.
Birchall had an opportunity to earn the Vale a deserved point in stoppage time but his stooping header from six yards was well wide of the target.
FLEETWOOD TOWN:Chris Maxwell, Conor McLaughlin, Danny Andrew, Mark Roberts, Gareth Evans, Steven Schumacher, Stephen Dobbie, Josh Morris, Antoni Sarcevic, Jamie Proctor, Stephen Jordan. SUBS: Scott Davies, Stewart Murdoch, Liam Hogan, Matty Blair, Liam McLinden, David Ball, Nick Haughton.
PORT VALE:Chris Neal, Adam Yates, Carl Dickinson, Ryan McGivern, Richard Duffy, Louis Dodds, Chris Lines, Tom Pope, Michael O’Connor, Mark Marshall, Jordan Slew. SUBS: Sam Johnson, Chris Birchall, Ben Williamson, Colin Daniel, Michael Brown, Byron Moore, Stėphane Zubar.