Coventry City v Port Vale
Saturday 26th December 2015
At The Ricoh Arena
Attendance: 17,779 including 1,283 visiting supporters
Vale returned back down the M6 empty-handed following a narrow defeat against promotion hopefuls Coventry, despite bossing the opening forty-five minutes and looking solid at the back.
Substitute James Maddision decided the game in the Sky Blues’ favour ten minutes from time when his shot from the edge of the box took a slight deflection.
Jak Alnwick managed to get his fingertips to the ball but unfortunately couldn’t prevent it from passing him on its way into the net.
It was harsh on the Vale, who had deserved to get something from the game, but their failure to take full advantage during the opening forty five minutes when they dominated the game came back to bite them on the backside in the end.
Vale made three changes to the starting eleven to face Coventry City in the Boxing Day clash at the Ricoh Arena, with Colin Daniel, Sam Foley and skipper Carl Dickinson all returning.
Dickinson came in at left back to replace Adam Yates, while Sam Foley was preferred to Sam Kelly on the left of midfield and Colin Daniel came in for the injured Louis Dodds.
It was a good, positive start from the Valiants, with the home side on the back foot for much of the opening minutes of the game.
Rob Page’s side went within a whisker of taking an early lead when Ajay Leicth-Smith almost made the home side pay for a mistake at the back, controlling and then firing an angled drive against the foot of the post in the 7th minute.
Vale continued to press high up the field and Coventry looked rattled, and Vale certainly soenced the home crowd, who had started the game in good voice.
Midway through the first half the stats would say that the game was pretty even in most aspects, except that by that time Vale had 65 per cent of possession, which says a lot playing away from home.
Vale had another opportunity to take the lead on 28 minutes when the ball fell to the feet of Sam Foley, 16 yards from goal, but his shot cleared the crossbar.
The longer the game went on, the more agitated the home crowd became, but despite their dominance, Vale still didn’t have anything to show for their efforts.
Coventry finally had a shot at goal in the 41st minute when Murphy, slightly off balance, shot wide of the target. It signalled a big push from the hosts for a minute or so, but Vale continued to defend well.
The big worry amongst the Vale supporters at half time was whether or not Vale could sustain their dominance during the second half and whether their heroes could stick at least one chance away.
It was the home side who started the better of the two in the second half, with Vale pinned back deep inside their own half and the home crowd responding to their team.
It was now Vale’s turn to sit back and defend, which to their credit, they were doing well, and to their credit, the travelling fans raised the noise levels, getting right behind the team.
The home side had a big shout for a penalty kick in the 57th minute, but despite the protests, the referee rightly awarded Vale a goal kick.
Coventry then had two more penalty appeals turned down within the space of fifteen seconds. Players were going down but the referee was having none of it.
Vale looked to have stemmed the tide and were gradually pushing their way up the pitch and having more and more of the ball inside the Coventry half of the pitch.
Vale made a substitution in the 73rd minute when Chris Birchall came off the bench to replace Byron Moore.
GOAL:Murphy wasn’t too far off target 77th minute with a sliced shot from the edge of the box, but Vale finally conceded in the 80th minute when substitute James Maddison’s shot took a slight deflection to beat Jak Alnwick.
Vale made an immediate substitution with JJ Hooper being given the nod to replace Leitch-Smith u front for the Valiants.
In the 86th minute on came Uche Ikpeazu, replacing Sam Foley, as Rob Page went for bust in final minutes of the game. Within seconds of coming on he went down inside the box, but Vale’s penalty appeals fell on deaf ears.
COVENTRY CITY: Reice Charles-Cook, Chris Stokes, Romain Vincelot, Ruben Lameiras, Adam Armstrong, Joe Cole, Aaron Phillips, Sam Ricketts, Gaek Bigirimana, Aaron Martin Jacob Murphy. SUBS: Lee Burge, James Maddison, Jim O’Brien, Marcus Tudgay, Ryan Haynes, Marc Antoine-Fortune, Ryan Kent
PORT VALE: Jak Alnwick,Ryan McGivern, Richard Duffy, Michael O’Connor, Sam Foley, Colin Daniel, Byron Moore, Ajay Leitch-Smith, Anthony Grant. SUBS: Chris Neal, Remie Streete, Chris Birchall, Uche Ikpeazu, JJ Hooper, Adam Yates, Sam Kelly