Port Vale v Oldham Athletic
Tuesday 3rd March 2015
Attendance: 4,423 including 236 visiting supporters
Vale’s recent run of wins accompanied by clean sheets came to an end when Oldham took all three points thanks to a 42nd minute free kick fired home from 25 yards by Mike Jones.
The Latics had started the game brightly, but Vale had gradually become stronger and in the second half they threw everything but the kitchen sink at the visitors, but with no reward.
The visitors defended as though their lives depended on it and a mixture of good saves, blocks, last gasp tackles and sheer bad luck from the Vale’s point of view saw the home side draw a blank.
As expected, Rob Page named the same starting eleven for the fourth game in a row, with the only change coming on the bench, with Colin Daniel taking the place of Tommy O’Sullivan who returned to parent club Cardiff City at the weekend.
Whilst most people in the ground were expecting an explosive start from the Valiants, the visitors had other ideas and pressed forward themselves looking for an early opener.
If Oldham had been lacking in confidence recently, and especially after their four-nil home defeat at the weekend, then it wasn’t showing as they poured forward into the Vale half.
There was a let off for the home side in the 11th minute when a low cross from the right by Dominic Poleon fell at the feet of an unmarked Jonathan Forte.
The Latics’ front man had the goal at his mercy but snatched at his shot from 6 yards out, missing the target and the chance to put the visitors ahead.
A left wing corner taken by Michael O’Connor at the other end was clawed away from under his crossbar by Oldham ‘keeper Jake Kean as Vale threatened.
Vale showed great determination and gradually began to pose more of a threat inside the Oldham half of the pitch, yet still Kean had little to do in terms of saves to make.
Despite protesting his innocence, Ryan Inniss picked up a booking in the 29th minute after a tackle on Mike Jones midway inside the Vale half – his fourth yellow card in four appearances for the Valiants.
Michael Brown wasn’t too pleased when the referee awarded the visitors a free kick in the 42nd minute after he appeared to have played the ball first, but the visitors took full advantage.
GOAL: The ball was placed 25 yards from goal and MIKE JONES waited patiently as the referee measured out the ten yards, then the Latics man fired in the opener, squeezing the ball between Chris Neal and his left hand post.
It was the first goal conceded by Rob Page’s side in 335 minute and it left Vale with everything to do in the second forty five minutes of the game.
Vale were quick out of the blocks on the second half, obviously looking to test the resolve of the visitors, hoping for an early equaliser.
The way Vale were pushing forward, there would always be a danger of leaving gaps at the back and Connor Brown cut inside for a shot from outside the box forcing Neal to touch over his crossbar.
Vale needed to push up in attack, but at the same time without taking too many risks, especially early on in the second half with plenty of time to go.
Tom Pope was twice denied an equaliser within the space of a minute on the hour. His close range header was kept out by a superb reaction save form Kean at the expense of a corner.
From the resulting flag kick, Pope sent in another powerful header, this time beating Kean, but Liam Kelly was well positioned to head off the line.
Vale made a double substitution in the 64th minute – Chris Lines and Colin Daniel coming on for Michael Brown and Mark Marshall.
Vale continued to threaten, but it seemed they were not having any luck in front of goal, with last gasp tackles, deflections and just sheer misfortune preventing an equaliser.
Defender Chris Robertson made way for Louis Dodds in the 81st minute as Vale went for broke, increasing their attacking options in the final minutes of the game.
Vale were the happier of the two sides to see the fourth official indicate there was to be five minutes of added time and Vale continued to pile forward in search of an all important equaliser.
PORT VALE: Chris Neal, Fredi Veseli, Chris Robertson, Ryan Inniss, Carl Dickinson, Byron Moore, Michael Brown, Michael O’Connor, Mark Marshall, Ben Williamson, Tom Pope. SUBS: Sam Johnson, Adam Yates, Ryan McGivern, Chris Birchall, Louis Dodds, Chris Lines, Colin Daniel.
OLDHAM ATHLETIC: Jake Kean, Connor Brown, Liam Kelly, Mike Jones, Dominic Poleon, Danny Phillskirk, Jonathan Forte, Carl Winchester, James Wilson, Adam Lockwood, Brian Wilson. SUBS: Joel Coleman, Timothee Dieng, Conor Wilkinson, Genseric Kusunga, Jack Truelove, Devante Jacobs, Rhys Murphy
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