Sheffield United v Port Vale
Saturday 21st March 2015
Attendance: 18,729 including 616 visiting supporters
Vale fell to a third consecutive defeat, losing to play-off hopefuls Sheffield United but at least putting in a performance to help eradicate the memories of an awful game in midweek against Crawley Town.
Jose Baxter put the home side in front from the penalty spot in the 29th minute after Michael O’Connor had fouled Jamie Murphy inside the box, but the Vale can be proud of the way they played.
They took the game to the home side, particularly in the second half, but they just couldn’t find the equaliser their play deserved and they left Bramall Lane empty-handed.
After two home defeats in a matter of four days, Rob Page decided to make two changes for the trip to Brammal Lane, where Vale were hoping to put a temporary halt to Sheffield United’s play=off aspirations.
In came Ben Williamson to replace Tom Pope, who had to settle for a seat on the bench, and Byron Moore returned from injury to take the place of Colin Daniel.
Vale had hoped skipper Carl Dickinson would be fit after returning to full time training on Friday, but his limbs had stiffened up overnight and it was decided it wouldn’t be worth risking him.
Neither side were able to dominate in the opening minutes of the game, but Vale started confidently enough and didn’t look too concerned about the task that lay ahead.
The Valiants knocked the ball about with confidence, yet the home side almost snatched an early lead when Paul Coutts drilled the ball into the Vale box from the left.
Chris Basham and Matt Done each got in behind the Val defence, stretching their neck in an attempt to get on the end of the cross, but thankfully for the Vale neither could reach it.
Michael Brown picked up a yellow card against his former club in the 17th minute following a tackle 25 yard from the Vale goal, but the free kick came to nothing.
Chris Neal held on to a shot from Jamie Murphy as the Blades increased their efforts in front of goal, then Vale went close at the other end.
Byron Moore was fouled out wide on the United left and Michael O’Connor’s free kick was met by the head of Chris Robertson, but Blades’ ‘keeper Mark Howard got down well to his left to make the save.
The ‘keeper then made a similar save, going down to his right this time to keep out a deflected shot from Brown from just outside the box.
Vale were managing to keep the crowd quiet, limiting the home side to few goal scoring opportunities, but they got their chance to open th scoring from the spot in the 29th minute.
GOAL:Jamie Murphy went down under a challenge from Michael O’Connor inside the box and the referee immediately pointed to the spot and the penalty kick was converted by JOSE BAXTER.
Two minutes later the home side had the ball in the Val net for the second time, but it was ruled out for offside with the linesman’s flag prominently raised.
It was, however, unseen by the stadium announcer, who, after originally acknowledging the goal, had to quickly correct his mistake, to the delight of the travelling supporters behind the goal.
At the start of the second half Rob Page reverted to the side that started against Crawley in midweek, with Tom Pope and Colin Daniel coming on for Byron Moore and Ben Williamson.
It was a lively enough start from the Vale in the second half and Howard had to be alert to touch over a 30 yard drive from O’Connor and Howard did well to deal with the resulting flag kick, which almost sneaked in.
Vale, attacking their own supporters, were giving the home team plenty to think about as they went in search of an equaliser.
Colin Daniel showed persistence to get his cross in at the second attempt and Pope almost took full advantage, hitting it first time, unfortunately wide of the target.
Vale had certainly picked up their game and the home crowd were showing their disapproval as the their side were forced to hold on to their lead.
Vale hoped to capitalise on their attacking play with a 68th substitution, with Achille Campion being thrown into the fray in place of Louis Dodds.
Campion was soon making a nuisance of himself and he wasn’t too far off the make with a bicycle kick as Vale continued to press hard.
Ryan McGivern earned himself a booking for bringing down Steven Davies 22 yards from goal, but the chance for a second goal for the Blades was wasted when Davies himself fired straight at the Vale wall.
Fredi Veseli’s name was added to the list in the referee’s notebook in the 87th minute for dissent.
Then in stoppage time, a foul by BROWN on Bob Harris was punished with a yellow card, Brown’s second of the game, and he had to walk.
SHEFFIELD UNITED:Mark Howard, Bob Harris, John Brayford, Chris Basham, Jamie Murphy, Jose Baxter, Matt Done, Paul Coutts, Kieron Freeman, Steven Davies, Jason Holt. SUBS: Craig Alcock, Ryan Flynn, Michael Doyle, Marc McNulty, Ben Davies, Iain Taylor, Che Adams
PORT VALE: Chris Neal, Adam Yates, Fredi Veseli, Chris Robertson, Ryan McGivern, Byron Moore, Michael Brown, Michael O’Connor, Mark Marshall, Louis Dodds, Ben Williamson. SUBS: Sam Johnson, Richard Duffy, Chris Birchall, Tom Pope, Tommy O’Sullivan, Colin Daniel, Achille Campion.
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.