Port Vale v MK Dons
Saturday 11th April 2015
Attendance: 4,379 including 383 visiting supporters
Vale halted a run of six defeats with a spirited performance against an MK Dons still chasing an automatic place in an entertaining nil-nil draw at Vale Park.
The home side showed battling qualities which, if reproduced for the remaining games of the season, should see them sitting safely above the drop zone when the season draws to a close.
Every single player gave their all for the club and had luck been on their side, they could have finished with maximum points, restricting the visitors to very few efforts on target, whilst going close to breaking the deadlock on several occasions.
Rob Page made four changes to the side to face high-flying MK Dons as Vale looked to put a dent in their automatic promotion hopes, whilst giving themselves a boost in their quest to avoid the drop.
Midfielder Michael O’Connnor returned to the starting line-up, replacing Tommy O’Sullivan and their were returns to the side for defender Neill Collins, replacing Chris Robertson and Ben Williamson who came in for Chris Birchall.
The manager showed his attack-minded selection by giving a rare start to Frenchman Achille Campion, who came in for the injured Tom Pope, who was named on the bench.
Right from the kick off it looked like the conditions might play a big part in the outcome of the game, with a blustery, swirling wind making its presence felt.
Vale started in a positive manner, taking the game to the visitors and forcing them back deep inside their own half and the Vale fans showed their appreciation.
Watching from the sidelines, it was difficult to see whay Vale were looking over their shoulders in what has been described as a relegation battle and the visitors doing so wel;l.
Vale were certainly having the better of things at both ends of the pitch and went close to taking the lead when Campion got up to meet a right wing corner, but his header was blocked.
Vale had claimed for a penalty kick turned down when Ben Williamson was fouled by Darren Potter and were instead awarded a free kick right on the edge of the box.
After a delay, in which the referee consulted his assistant, Potter received a yellow card and then Michael O’Connor’s dead ball effort was hit straight at the ‘keeper.
Vale were battling for every single ball like their lives depended on it, with every single payer playing a part as they dominated affairs – every player but goalkeeper Chris Neal, who was having an exceptionally quiet afternoon.
The two sides went in at half time on level terms, butit had been Vale who were bossing things – the visitors hadn’t had a single effort on target during the opening forty-five minutes and that was mainly down to Vale’s tenacity all over the pitch.
A one-two between Louis Dodds and Ben Wiliamson produced a shooting opportunity for the former early in the second half, but the ball flew harmlessly past the far post.
It was highly unlikely that Vale would dominate the second forty five minutes in the manner they had in the first half, but they started off showing exactly the same determination.
Vale made a substitution in the 61st minutes of the game, with Mohamed Coulibaly coming off the bench to take the place of Louis Dodds.
Coulibaly went close when he turned sharply 20 yards from goal and took a shot, which was inches over the crossbar.
Vale continued to show the same battling qualities, pushing forward at every opportunity and Tom Pope was thrown into the mix, coming on in the 78th minute to replace Ben Williamson.
Injury or not, Pope got stuck in just like the rest of them, willing to risk further injury for the cause, getting a foot in when it needed it and showing just what the club means to him.
In the end, neither side managed to break the deadlock, but the point gained by the Vale could well turn out to be an important one at the end of the season.
PORT VALE: Chris Neal, Fredi Veseli, Richard Duffy, Neill Collins, Carl Dickinson, Louis Dodds, Michael Brown, Michael O’Connor, Mark Marshall, Ben Williamson, Achille Campion. SUBS: Sam Johnson, Adam Yates, Chris Birchall, Tommy O’Sullivan, Mohamed Coulibaly, Tom Pope, Chris Robertson.
MK DONS: Dave Martin, Lee Hodson, Kyle McFadzean, Antony Kay, Darren potter, Dean Bowditch, Will Grigg, Dele Alli, Daniel Powell, Samir Caruthers, Joe Walsh. SUBS: Danny Green, Jordan Spence, Tom Hitchcock, Charlie Burns, Lewis Baker, Rob Hall
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