Port Vale v Barnsley
Monday 28th March 2016
At Vale Park
Attendance 4,839 including 854 visiting supporters
Vale’s play-off aspirations were all but dead and buried following a home defeat to Barnsley, in a game where the visitors were more than matched in every department.
Barnsley took the lead as early as the ninth minute of the game in bizarre circumstances and a lot of confusion after the visitors’ free kick was initially held up when Vale defender Richard Duffy appeared to be pole-axed inside the box while the visitors were lining up the free kick.
When it was eventually taken – and re-taken – Barnsley scored straight from the free kick when skipper Conor Hourihane slotted the ball through a mass of bides and straight into the net.
Vale made two changes for a game against Barnsley, which many felt would more or less decide whether or not Vale still had any hope of getting into the play-offs at the end of the season.
Anthony Grant was back in to replace Michael Brown after recovering from the visrus which kep him out of the Shrewsbury game on Good Friday.
He was joined back in the starting line-up by AJ Leitch-Smith, who came back from injury to partner JJ Hooper up top for the Vale.
The game started with Vale on top, but before too long there was an incident at the other end of the field which lead to complaints to the home crowd and an opening goal for the visitors.
Barnsley were awarded afree kick about 25 yards out, at an angle to the goal, and as they lined up to take the kick two players went down.
Vale defender Richard Duffy lay flat out inside the 18 yard area and the Tykes’ Ivan Toney was doubled up as if in real pain.
They held up play for a few moments, with Vale supporters behind the goal in the BYcars End calling for a red card for the Barnsley player.
The free kick was eventually taken and the whistle blew, with everybody presuming the referee had spotted an infringement and had awarded a free kick in Vale’s favour.
GOAL:In fact what he had do, for whatever reason, was order the free kick to be retaken, and this time Tykes’ skipper Conor Hourihane curled the free kick through a sea of bodies and into the back of the net for the opening goal in the 9th minute.
Vale took the game to the visitors from then on and went close with an equaliser after Anthomy Grant won the ball in the middle of the park, ran a few yards and then fed Louis Dodds.
Spotting Ajay Leicth-Smith making a run to his right, Dodds slipped the ball into his path and Leith-Smith drilled in a low angled drive, which Barnsly ‘keeper Adam Davies did well to palm around the post.
Leitch-Smith was presented with a great opportunity to level the scoresin the 39th minute when clear through on goal, but with the ball bouncing, he failed to get a clean connection and the chance was gone.
Ten minutes into the second half the visitors went close to a second when Adam Hammill squeezed in a shot from 20 yards that flew about a foot outside Alnwick’s left hand post.
Vale made a double substitution on 57 minutes when JJ Hooper and Michael O’Connor were replaced by Theo Robinson and Michael Brown.
Sam Foley put the ball over from 8 yards when he would have been expected to find the net, but in fairness to him it dropped quickly and he had to hit it first time.
In pushing for an equaliser Vale were inevitably leaving gaps at the back and were a little fortunate on more than one occasion that the visitors didn’t exploit it.
Vale made a further change in the 75th minute when central defender Ryan Inniss went off, limping slightly, and was replaced by winger Sam Kelly.
Vale huffed and puffed at times but lacked the quality they needed in the final third, seldom really threatening the Barnsley goal.
PORT VALE:Jak Alnwick, Ben Purkiss, Ryan Inniss, Richard Duffy, Carl Dickinson, Louis Dodds, Michael O’Connor, Anthony Grant, Sam Foley, JJ Hooper, Ajay Leitch-Smith. SUBS: Ryan Boot, Ryan McGivern, Matty Kennedy, Michael Brown, Sam Kelly, Byron Moore, Theo Robinson.
BARNSLEY:Adam Davies, Aidan White, Marc Roberts, Alfie Mawson, George Williams, Joshua Scowen, Adam Hammill, Conor Hourihane, Ashley Fletcher, Joshua Brownhill, Ivan Toney. SUBS: Nicholas Townsend, Shaun Tuton, Lewin Nyatanga, Harrison Chapman, Otis Khan, James Bree, Jak McCourt