Port Vale v Blackpool
Tuesday 24th November 2015
At Vale Park
Attendance: 3,640 including 172 visiting supporters
A tiring Vale team made hard work of things, but finally their patience paid off with two late goals ensuring three points for the Valiants and a fourth league win on the bounce.
In horrendous conditions, with the rain falling heavily all evening, it was looking like Vale may have o settle for a point, until Ajay Leitch-Smith netted his fifth goal in four games to put the home side ahead.
Four minutes later Vale made sure of another win when substitute Chris Birchall hammered home from close range to the delight of all of his team mates.
Vale boss Rob Page made just one change to the starting eleven to face a Blackpool side low in confidence following a run of six defeats in all competitions.
Jak Alnwick was able to resume in goal after being passed fit following his injury against Chesterfield, and Vale welcomed back Michael O’Connor in midfield, with Sam Kelly having to settle for a place on the bench.
It the Seasiders came into the game lacking confidence, it certainly wasn’t apparent and there was a willingness to attack in numbers when the opportunity arose.
The atmospehere inside the stadium was rather subdues, apart from the odd bust of ‘Come on Vale’, but that was probably as much to do with the cold and wet conditions as much as anything.
On 11 minutes, however, the noise levels went up when Vale were opened up and the home side were fortunate to not concede, the move ending in an almighty scramble with Jack Alnwick finally blocking right on his line.
Blackpool were not afraid to throw bodies forward whenever the opportunity arose and Vale needed to make sure they remained alert at all times.
Vale had their share of the ball deep inside the Blackpool half of the field but seldom caused the visiting defence any real problems.
Ajay Leitch-Smith went close in the 18th minute, however, making space for a shot which Blackpool were relieved to see take a deflection, and Vale had to settle for a corner kick.
The home side were struggling to make their mark on the game, despite having plenty of the ball in their opponents half.
Vale were opened up again as half time approached and eventually David Norris was able to get in a low shot from the tightest of angles, but Alnwick managed to smother the ball in his line.
Vale began the second half looking sharp and almost conjured up an opener following a neat mover involving Dodds, Foley and Leitch-Smith, with Dodds getting a final touch which was deflected wide of the target.
The visitors hit straight back and again went close, but some good defending and Vale’s willingness to throw their bodies in the way kept the scores level.
The rain continued to fall heavily, making for a tricky playing surface and both sides were prone to make the occasional mistake.
Vale were finding themselves coming under the cosh for a while, yet still the visitors couldn’t manage a clear attempt on goal thanks to some decent defending by the home side.
Vale opted for a change in the 63rd minute when Chris Birchall came off the bench to take up his position on the right, taking the place of Byron Moore.
In the 71st minute Vale threw more fresh legs on in the shape of Sam Kelly and Uche Ikpeazu, who took the place of Sam Foley and Louis Dodds.
Vale almost broke the deadlock in the 80th minute when O’Connor pulled the ball back to the edge of the area from the byeline and the onrushing Carl Dickinson hammered a shot just inches wide.
GOAL:In the 82nd minute things finally went Vale’s way. Sam Kelly slipped a delightful little ball into the path of AJAY LEITCH-SMITH and the in-form striker finished in style from ten yards.
GOAL:Then four minutes later, with the visitors desperate to snatch a late equaliser, CHRIS BIRCHALL hammered home from close range to make sure of the three points.
PORT VALE:Jak Alnwick, Carl Dickinson, Ryan McGivern, Richard Duffy, Michael O’Connor, Louis Dodds, Sam Foley, Adam Yates, Byron Moore, Ajay Leitch-Smith, Anthony Grant. SUBS: Chris Neal, Ben Purkiss, Remie Streete, Chris Birchall, Uche Ikpeazu, Colin Daniel, Anthony Grant
BLACKPOOL:Dean Lyness, Hayden White, David Ferguson, James McAlister
Clark Robertson, Bradley Potts, Mark Cullen, Tom Aldred, Kwame Thomas, David Norris, Bright Osayi-Samuel. SUBS: Jarrett Rivers, Jack Redshaw, John Herron, Emmerson Boyce, Martin Peterson, Kyle Letheren, Will Aimson