Port Vale v Crewe Alexandra
Saturday 24th January 2015
Attendance: 8,002 including 1,384 visiting supporters
Crewe Alexandra took the spoils once again, the eight time they have done so in their last eleven visits to Vale Park, thanks to a first half strike from Nicky Ajose.
The Alex goal scorer made up for missing a penalty earlier, when Vale ’keeper Chris Neal brilliantly saved his spot kick, finishing with style in the 39th minute.
Vale’s second half performance was an improvement of that of the opening forty five minutes, but they couldn’t find a way past a hard-working Crewe defence and in the end the chance of a place in the top six passed them by.
There were no big surprises when Rob Page announced the starting line-up for the visit of near neighbours Crewe Alexandra as the Vale boss kept the same eleven.
Since he took over the role of manager at the Vale, Page hasn’t seen any reason to change a winning side, and this week was no different.
There was once change on the bench, however, and one that will have pleased all the Vale fans and perhaps had the opposite effect on the visiting supporters.
Achille Campion was the unfortunate one to be left off the bench, but his replacement, a certain Tom Pope, will have given everybody a lift.
Vale looked the much stronger of the two sides in the opening exchanges, seemingly attacking at will, albeit not creating anything to trouble Alex ‘keeper Ben Garratt.
Garratt’s first save came on five minutes, when former Alex midfielder Michael O’Connor hit a 25 yard drive straight at him, giving him a comfortable save to make.
The visitors didn’t manage to get out of their own half until the 9th minute and Uche Ikpeazu forced a corner, which Chris Neal took at the second attempt, with George Ray lurking menacingly.
Ikpeazu was beginning to cause Vale a few problems with his strength and determination as the visitors began to grow in confidence.
The visitors then had the perfect opportunity to get their noses in front when Chris Neal was adjudged to have fouled Nicky Ajose inside the box and the referee immediately pointed to the spot.
Ajose took got back to his feet and prepared to take the penalty kick himself, hammering the ball low to Neal’s right, but the Vale ‘keeper reacted brilliantly, throwing himself to his right to make the save.
After a period when Vale had looked to be napping, it was a wake-up call – a kick up the backside, but although it did appear to liven things up, it was the visitors who were looking the more dangerous of the two when going forward.
GOAL: In the 39th minute the visitors took the lead when Jamie Ness, on loan from Stoke, played the ball through for NICKY AJOSE, who finished in style to ensure it was the Alex who went in at the break with a slender lead.
Vale came out of the blocks looking lively enough at the start of the second half, but the visitors refused to allow them to have their own way.
It was becoming evident that Vale needed to make changes, and sure enough, Rob Page responded by making a triple substitution on the hour, with Chris Lines, Colin Daniel and Tom Pope all coming off the bench, with Michael Brown, Chris Birchall and Louis Dodds leaving the field.
But it was Ben Williamson who was presented with an opportunity to put Vale on level terms when the ball was nodded into his path by Lines, but Garratt moved sharply from his line to make the block.
Vale were hav9ing much more of the possession now, looking the better of the two in terms of attacking play, yet still Garratt had little to do.
To be fair, that had much to do with the determination and willingness to work by his defenders, who refused to let Vale back into the game.
And although Vale went close to an equaliser when Chris Lines struck the Alex crossbar in stoppage time, Vale lacked that little bit of quality needed to get something out of the game,
PORT VALE: Chris Neal, Adam Yates, Carl Dickinson, Chris Robertson, Chris Birchall, Louis Dodds, Bemn Williamson, Michael O’Connor, Michael Brown, Mark Marshall, Frederic Veseli. SUBS: Sam Johnson, Richard Duffy, Chris Lines, Tom Pope, Colin Daniel, Byron Moore, Dany N’Guessan
CREWE ALEX: Ben Garratt, Harry Davis, George Ray, James Baillie, James Jones, Greg Leigh, Jamie Ness, Alan Tate, Uche Ikpeakzu, Nicky Ajose, Anthony Grant. SUBS: Oliver Turton, Chris Atkinson, George Cooper, Lauri Dalla Valle, Liam Nolan, Marcus Haber, Anthony Stewart
Follow our Audio Boom Channel and get audio clips to your phone or pc, including team news, interviews and lots more, all completely FREE.
Why not follow us?https://audioboom.com/channel/officialpvfc
Can’t get to the game? Why not listen to full match commentary, courtesy of Radio Stoke, on Valiant Player? Click Here to subscribe
Follow us on Twitter - @OfficialPVFC - for team news and regular match updates straight from the press box
Like us on Facebook - team news and regular match updates straight from the press box
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.