Port Vale v Rochdale
At Vale Park
Saturday 15th November 2014
Attendance: 5,043 including 566 visiting supporters
Michael Brown’s first League goal in a Vale shirt and a clean sheet – Vale’s second of the season – saw off visitors Rochdale and ended their impressive run of late, continuing Vale’s recent revival.
The much-travelled Brown celebrated his second half strike like it was the first he had scored in a long, impressive career, but the victory was not solely down to the 37-year-old midfielder.
Vale’s patchwork defence did their job admirably, and each and every one wearing the white shirt ‘put in a shift’, as Vale picked up another precious three points.
With the absence of Ryan McGivern and Richard Duffy, and the recall of Remmie Streete by Newcastle United, Rob Page had no option other than shake up the back four for the visit of Rochdale.
Skipper Carl Dickinson returned at left back and there was a new pairing at the heart of the defence, with Chris Robertson and Fredi Veseli forming a partnership for the first time.
Michael Brown came in to play in front of the back four and there was also a starting place for Colin .Daniel, with Dany N’Guessan playing up front as a lone striker.
The visitors came to Vale Park in a rich vein of form on their travels and a reputation as a very good footballing outfit and a good goal scoring record.
Vale knew they needed to be disciplined, well organised and hard working if they were to compete with Keith Hill’s side.
The visitors soon impressed with slick, quick-flowing football, but Vale were easily matching them, albeit at times deep inside their own half.
Thanks mainly to the hard work Vale were doing, Rochdale were reduced to trying their luck from a distance, which never troubled Vale ‘keeper Chris Neal
They did create a decent chance when the ball was whipped into the box for Calvin Andrew, but the former Vale loanee couldn’t steer his header on target.
Vale were unfortunate not to take the lead when a flowing move from the home side culminated in Adam Yates playing the ball low into the visitors’ box.
Dany N’Guessan had a stab at it but the ball was blocked, with Colin Daniel’s follow-up attempt doing similar and the home side had to make do with a corner kick.
It was turning into an intriguing affair, a bit like a boxing match with either side trying to work out the other’s next move, working out when to go out on the attack and when to keep the guard nice and tight.
A curling effort from N’Guessan on the corner of the 18 yard box had a section of the crowd out of their seats, but it swerved inches wide of the far post.
The only way either ‘keeper would have broken into a sweat was if they had been wearing thermal underwear, but don’t let that fool you into thinking there was no, or little action to be seen.
In first half stoppage time Daniel picked up the ball inside his own half and ran, and ran, until he was brought down on the edge of the 18 yard box.
The resulting free kick, taken by Mark Marshall, dipped just seconds too late, clearing the Rochdale crossbar, proving to be the last of the first half action. If the second half was going to be anything like the first, we were in for a treat.
Jamie Allen almost broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute with a delicate chip, but Neal reacted well, touching the ball over the crossbar to keep the visitors out.
Clearly, Vale needed to keep their guard up and soak up a few ‘punches’ before hitting back, if they were to come out of the game unscathed.
As the fog slowly descended on Vale Park, Vale finally go the breakthrough they had been looking for in the 63rd minute of the game.
GOAL:A neat Vale move gave Adam Yates the opportunity to cross into the Rochdale box and the ball dropped nicely for MICHAEL BROWN to smash home from the edge of the box.
Four minutes later Vale made their first substitution, Dany N’Guessan leaving the field of play to be replaced by Ben Williamson.
Williamson almost made an immediate impact on the game, taking the ball round the advancing ‘keeper before rolling an angled shot towards goal, unfortunately just the wrong side of the upright.
Vale were now on the up, but working just as hard, to a man, as they had in the opening forty five minutes, and causing the visitors plenty of problems at the same time.
There was still a need for Vale to be on their toes, as Rochdale refused to concede and continued to push Vale back on the ropes.
Vale brought on fresh legs in the shape of Chris Birchall in the 87th minute, with Colin Daniel going off for a well-deserved rest.
In the end, it was Vale who were celebrating a well-earned victory against an impressive Rochdale side. Now for two tough away trips as Vale prepare to face MK Dons and Gillingham in their next two fixtures.
PORT VALE: Chris Neal, Adam Yates, Chris Robertson, Fredi Veseli, Carl Dickinson, Michael Brown, Colin Daniel, Chris Lines, Michael O’Connor, Mark Marshall, Dany N’Guessan. SUBS: Sam Johnson, Chris Birchall, Louis Dodds, Ben Williamson, Byron Moore, Jordan Slew, Achille Campion.
ROCHDALE: Conrad Logan, Joe Rafferty, Rhys Bennett, Ashley Eastham, Calvin Andrew, Stephen Dawson, Matt Done, Scott Tanser, Jamie Allen, Michael Rose, Jack O’Connell. SUBS: Josh Lillis, Oliver Lancashire, Matty Lund, Reuben Noble Lazerus, Bastien Hery, Jack Muldoon, Andrew Cannon.
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There will be a full match report on the official website moments after the final whistle, with player and manager interviews to come later.
A match gallery (photos courtesy of Gerard Austin) will also appear on the site soon.