Port Vale v Shrewsbury Town
At Vale Park
Saturday 31st October 2015
Attendance 4,880 including 528 visiting supporters
Level at the interval, following a first half during which Vale rarely threatened the visitors’ goal, the Valiants looked a different side after the break and Louis Dodds gave Vale a deserved lead in the 52nd minute.
Michael O’Connor fired home Vale’s second from the penalty spot following a handball by former Crewe Alex defender Matt Tootle to ensure Vale earned themselves three deserved points.
Rob Page made two changes to the Val staring eleven to face Shrewsbury – one enforced with Uche Ikpeazu serving a one-match suspension and the other tactical with Sam Foley dropping to the bench.
Byron Moore was restored to the starting eleven after recovering from injury and Colin Daniel was preferred on the left of midfield and the manager went with Louis Dodds and Ajay Leitch-Smith up top.
In a fairly even opening few minutes neither side managed to take the game by the scruff of the net, each of them threatening to do something but neither of them successfully.
The visitors appeals for a penalty kick in the ninth minute rightly fell on deaf ears, despite the visiting protests of the away supporters behind the goal.
Two minutes later Vale had an opportunity to go in front when Leitch-Smith gained a yard on his marker, but his shot was beaten away by ‘keeper Jayson Leutwiler.
Former Fleetwood man Junior Brown threatened to cause problems down the Vale right with several penetrating runs, but generally the home side dealt with his threats well.
The game had the feel of an end of season match with northing to play forand the stadium was devoid of what you would describe as ‘an atmosphere.’
That was not through any lack of effort from either side, but the two of them pretty much cancelled each other out and there was little in terms of goalmouth action.
Brown’s foul on Byron Moore, right on the edge of the 18 yard box on the Vale right, earned the Shrewsbury man a yellow card, but Vale did nothing with the resulting free kick.
Vale were beginning to get on top slightly as the minutes ticked away in the first half, yet Shrews’ ‘keeper Leutwiler was a virtual spectator for much of the opening forty five minutes.
Without the physical presence of Uche Ikpeazu in their forward line, Vale were looking a little lightweight up front and that was causing much frustration amongst the fans.
In stoppage time Vale went as close as they all game to that point, when an angled Volley, hit with a hint of spin, whistled a matter of inches past the far post.
Vale began the second half in a lively fashion and managed to earn themselves an early corner kick, from which they came so close to getting their noses in front.
Michael O’Connor took the flag kick out on the right and his perfectly-flighted cross was met by a firm header from Colin Daniel, but Leutwiler reacted well to push the ball over his crossbar.
GOAL:Vale’s good start continued and they deservedly took the lead in the 52nd minute. Colin Daniel received the ball 15 yards inside the Shrewsbury half and turned sharply before running at goal.
Spotting LOUIS DODDS darting into the area, Daniel slipped the ball into his path and the former Leicester man’s deft touch was enough to leave Shrews’ ‘keeper Leutwiler flat-footed.
Predictably, Vale had to endure a spell in the game when the visitors went looking for an equaliser, but the home side didn’t look seriously threatened and were pretty much in control.
Vale went close to increasing their lead in the 72nd minute when skipper Carl Dickinson got on the end of O’Connor’s corner from the right, meeting it with a firm header and not for the first time in the game, Leutwiler was well positioned to push the ball over the bar.
GOAL:Vale were handed the perfect opportunity to open up a two-goal lead in the 80th minute when Matt Tootle handled inside the box. MICHAEL O’CONNOR placed the ball and proceeded to blast to Leutwiler’s right hand side from the penalty spot.
It was no more than Vale deserved for their second half display.
PORT VALE: Jak Alnwick, Ben Purkiss, Carl Dickinson, Ryan McGivern, Richard Duffy, Michael O’Connor, Louis Dodds, Colin Daniel, Byron Moore, Ajay Leitch-Smith, Anthony Grant. SUBS: Chris Neal, Remie Streete, Chris Birchall, Sam Foley, JJ Hooper, Adam Yates, Ryan Llloyd.
SHREWSBURY TOWN: Jayson Leutwiler, Matt Tootle, Dominic Smith, Zak Whitbread, Natahniel Knight-Percival, Junior Brown, Liam Lawrence, Abu Ogogo, Larnell Cole, Tyrone Barnett, Jean-Louis Akpa akpro. SUBS: Shaun Rowley, Anthony Gerrard, James Collins, Mat Sdaler, Liam McAlinden, Jordan Clark, Ian Black