Barnsley v Port Vale
Saturday 14th November 2015
Attendance: 8,696 including 278 visiting supporters
Vale picked up three precious points against an out-of-sorts Barnsley team, despite a spirited first half performance from the home side.
Rob Page’s side were on the back foot for much of the first half, but took an unexpected lead thanks to a superb header from Ajay Leitch Smith, who climbed to meet a cross from Michael O‘Connor to plant the ball into the top corner.
Sam Foley then doubled the visitors’ lead just seventy-five seconds into the second half to give Vale that all-important cushion, but Barnsley pulled a goal back in the 77th minute to make sure on a tense final quarter of an hour.
Rob Page made two changes to the starting eleven for the game at Oakwell, bringing in Adam Yates for the injured Ben Burkiss and Sam Foley for Colin Daniel.
Buoyed by their midweek win over York City, the home side began the match confidently, yet at the same time looking a little vulnerable at the back.
Jak Alnwick was called into action early on in the game to keep out an effort from Adam Hammill as Vale soaked up some pressure from the home side.
It appeared to snap Vale into action, realising they not only had to keep Barnsley at bay, they also had to start causing the home defence a few problems.
Alnwick was again called into action, this time getting the slightest of touches to an angled drive from Watkins – enough to push the ball out of the danger area.
Michael O’Connor earned himself a yellow card when he nicked the heels of Marley Watkins right in front of the dug-outs and the Vale midfielder was not too happy with the reaction of the Barnsley manager and his staff.
It was the home side, however, who were bossing affairs, looking the hungrier f the two sides. Vale were looking good in small patches but were spending far too much time on the back foot.
Barnsley went close again in the 36th minute when Isgrove put the ball across the face of goal, but Watkins, who came sliding in, couldn’t quite get that decisive touch.
GOAL: Vale then took the lead against the run of play. Moore held the ball in the corner, before laying it back to O’Connor and his cross was met with a firm header from AJAY LEITH-SMITH, sending the ball into the top corner of the net.
Vale started the second half in perfect fashion, though it looked like there was going to be a downside to go with it when Michael O’Connor sent down inside the Vale 18 yard box.
GOAL:The Irishman remained down as Vale broke and went straight down the other end and SAMFOLEY fished the move with a 15 yard strike to double Vale’s lead.
The restart was held up while a stretcher was taken on as everybody feared the worst for O’Connor, but thankfully he was soon back on his feet and able to resume.
Understandably, heads had started to drop amongst the red-shirted Barnsley players, but there was still a long way to go before Vale could claim a rare away victory.
Sam Foley was a constant threat to the home defence, his willingness to run at them was causing a few headaches for Lee Johnson’s side.
A stooping header from Tykes’ skipper Alfie Mawson had Alnwick scrambling across his goal line, but he needn’t have worried as the ball flew wide of the target.
Midway through the second half Leitch-Smith was taken off to be replaced by the fresh legs of Uche Ikpeazu – a change of tactics for the visitors.
GOAL:Jak Alnwick produces a superb save, pushing a header from Smith around his upright, but a minute later Barnsley pulled one back through SAM WINNALL.
Vale made a change shortly afterwards with Colin Daniel coming off the bench to replace Sam Foley.
Vale had to work hard and ride their luck a little to keep hold of their lead in the closing stages of the game, and with six minutes of added time, it made their jobs even more difficult, but in the end it was a well-earned victory.
BARNSLEY: Adam Davies, James Bree, George Smith, Alfie Mawson, Lewin Nyatanga, Ben Pearson, Adam Hammill, Marley Watkins, Ivan Toney, Conor Hourihane, Lloyd Isgrove. SUBS: Nick Townsend, Simeaon Jackson, Sam Winnall, Marc Roberts, Michael Smith, Brad Abbott, George Maris
PORT VALE: Jak Alnwick, Adam Yates, Ryan McGivern, Richard Duffy, Carl Dickinson, Byron Moore, Anthony Grant, Michael O’Connor, Sam Foley, Ajay Leitch-Smith, Louis Dodds. SUBS: Chris Neal, Remie Streete, Chris Birchall, Uche Ikpeazu, JJ Hooper, Colin Daniel, Sam Kelly.