Notts County v Port Vale
Saturday 28th February 2015
Attendance: including visiting supporters
Vale chalked up their third success on the bounce and just as satisfying for boss Rob Page, a third clean sheet to go with it at Meadow Lane.
Vale had Mark Marshall to thank for the only goal of the game after just seven minutes, but this victory was not down to any single player, it was a team performance worthy of the three points.
They didn’t dominate the whole ninety minutes and at times it was backs to the wall stuff, but every player out there wearing a Vale shirt gave their all for the cause and deserved to get their rewards.
There were no surprises when the Vale team was announced before the game with Rob Page electing to stick to the same eleven for the third game running and keeping the bench the same as was in Vale’s win over Doncaster Rovers.
Vale opened extremely strongly. If the plan was to rattle the home side and test their resolve with an all out attacking display, then it appeared to be doing just that.
GOAL:Vale took full advantage of the home side’s lack of confidence and a mix up between County defender Hayden Mullins and ‘keeper Roy Carroll, which left MARK MARSHALL with the relatively simple task of firing into an empty net in the 7th minute.
The ball had hardly been inside the Vale half during the opening minutes of the game and it came as no surprise to see the visitors edge in front at that early stage.
There was a scare for the Valiants when Ryan Inniss was left on the floor after the ball was cleared following a dangerous home attack, but the defender was soon back on his feet and soon in the thick of things at the other end.
Whilst Vale weren’t exactly having everything their own way, they were certainly the dominant force and if looked like three away point was more than a possibility.
Byron Moore was looking quite at home in the Vale midfield and justifying his selection with an eye-catching display as Vale bossed affairs in that area of the pitch.
Vale had ‘keeper Chris Neal to thank, however, for keeping them in front after some fancy footwork from Paddy McCourt created an opening for a shot from just inside the box, but the Neal reacted well to make the save.
McCourt then created an opening for team mate Garry Thompson moments later but the outstretched arms of Neal again saved the day. Just seconds later there was a melee inside the Vale box with players from both sides getting involved.
The referee eventually brought out the yellow card, booking Chris Neal, Tom Pope and Ryan Inniss for the Vale and Notts’ defender Hayden Mullins.
There were so many cards being flashed about we were beginning to wonder if the game had been sponsored by moonpig.com.
The home side were gradually having more of a share of things and Banjer ought to have levelled things when presented with a clear chance on goal, but he fired well over the crossbar.
The home side looked to give Vale plenty to think about at the commencement of the second period as they started the half strongly, just as the visitors had in the first half.
Vale were being asked to defend now and each and every one of them from front to back had a part to play as they attempted to hold on to their lead.
It was certainly time for every man wearing the purple shirt to stand up and be counted and the Vale players did just that, soaking up the pressure before starting to hit back.
Liam Noble headed over the bar from six yards when he perhaps should have done better, and then Vale went so close to a second goal at the other end.
Byron Moore’s pinpoint cross chipped in from the right looked like it was going to drop onto Tom Pope’s head at the far post, only for Roy Carroll to get his fingertips on the ball at a vital moment to prevent the Vale striker from heading home.
Vale created one or two half chances and it was looking like they may need to convert one of them as the home side hit them again, this time Campbell-Rice’s low angled drive bringing a save from Neal, who grabbed it at the second attempt.
Vale were not content to sit back and defend their lead and attacked at every opportunity, though they didn’t have that bit of luck in front of goal.
Vale made a change in the 84th minute when Ben Williamson was replaced by Louis Dodds as Rob Page decided on introducing fresh legs.
NOTTSCOUNTY: Roy Carroll, Blair Adams, Hayden Mullins, Haydn Hollis, Garry Thompson, Curtis Thompson, Liam Noble, Paddy McCourt, Balint Bajner, Mike Edwards, Jamal Campbell-Rice. SUBS: Kevin Pilkington, Alan Smith, Will Hayhurst, Sean Newton, Gary Jones, Billy Daniels, Kaiyne Woolery
PORT VALE: Chris Neal, Carl Dickinson, Chris Robertson, Ben Williamson, Tom Pope, Michael O’Connor, Michael Brown, Byron Moore, Mark Marshall, Frederic Veseli, Ryan Inniss. SUBS: Sam Johnson, Adam Yates, Ryan McGivern, Chris Birchall, Louis Dodds, Chris Lines, Tommy O’Sullivan
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