Port Vale 3 Crewe Alex 0
Saturday 9th April 2016
At Vale Park
Attendance 5,771 including 549 visiting supporters
Two goals from Louis Dodds and a stoppage time strike from JJ Hooper were enough to give Vale the bragging rights as Vale saw off South Cheshire neighbours Crewe Alex at Vale Park.
Crewe came into the game needing a miracle if they were to avoid relegation at the end of the season and that task became even less likely when Dodds struck in the 3rd minute of the game.
Despite being behind from such and early stage, Crewe were still in with a chance of snatching a point until late in the game when Dodds struck for the second time, this time hammering the ball into the roof of the net from close range.
As if to rub salt in Crewe’s wounds, Hooper grabbed his second goal in two games with a lovely finish, similar to that he scored at Chesterfield in Vale’s previous game.
Vale made one change for the visit of Crewe Alexandra for a game that the visitors were desperate to win and one that Vale boss Rob Page was urging his players to turn up for following a disappointing second half performance in Vale’s previous fixture.
In came Michael O’Connor, back from injury to face one of his former clubs, with Byron Moore being the player to step down for a seat on the bench.
Vale got off to a good start to the game, on the front foot from the kick off and winning a free kick 25 yards out when George Ray brought down Louis Dodds, earning himself a yellow card in the process.
GOAL:Vale won corner from the resulting free kick to keep the pressure on and when the ball fell to LOUIS DODDS with just 130 seconds on the clock he made not mistake from 15 yards.
Vale continued to dominate the play, pressing Crewe back and the visitors rarely caused the home side any problems at the back, despite the odd sortie up field.
In fairness to the Alex, despite Vale pressing hard, goalkeeper Ben Garratt had little to do, with his defence working hard in front of him.
Daniel Udoh showed good control and plenty of composure to bring the ball down, turn and look for a shooting opportunity on the edge of the Vale box, but Richard Duffy times his tackle perfectly to keep him at bay.
Midway through the first half Michael O’Connor was forced to leave the field of play with what appeared to be a nose-bleed, but one change of shirt later; he was back in the action.
Vale continued to have plenty of possession but didn’t really look like adding to their early goal, rarely troubling a Crewe rearguard who looked well organised.
Almost every ball Vale played long into the Alex box in the hope of Ajay Leitch-Smith getting on the end of was mopped up, usually by Ray, who was having a good game for the visitors.
The opening forty-five minutes wasn’t very high in the entertainment ratings and both sets of supporters were hoping their side would step it up in the second half.
James Jones had an early opportunity to level the scores but he couldn’t keep his shot down and he fired well over Jak Alnwick’s crossbar.
It was a good start to the second period for the visitors, however, who were looking more like a side chasing a play-off spot than a team sitting at the foot of the table.
Vale made their first change on 53 minutes with former Crewe winger Byron Moore coming on to replace Sam Kelly.
Two minutes later Moore went close to claiming Vale’s second when he turned sharply at the back post to send in a low shot just inches wide of the target.
Vale began to look sharp again, as though responding to Crewe’s good start to the second half had woken them up from a deep slumber. This was more like it.
In the 64th minute Vale made a second substitution with JJ Hooper coming off the bench in a straight swap for Ajay Leitch-Smith.
The pace of the game slowed down once again and there were few openings for either side, but the visitors still felt they could come back into the game.
Vale went close to doubling their lead when a cross-come-shot from skipper Carl Dickinson was touched over the bar by Garrett.
GOAL:The visitors hopes of getting something from the were finally put to bed in the 83rd minutes when LOUIS DODDS smashed his and Vale’s second into the roof of the net from close range.
GOAL:Then two minutes into stoppage time JJ HOOPER put the final nail in the visitors’ coffin, curling in an angled shot to give Garrett no chance.
PORT VALE:Jak Alnwick, Ben Purkiss, Carl Dickinson, Remie Streete, Richard Duffy, Michael O’Connor, Louis Dodds, Sam Foley, Sam Kelly, Ajay Leitch-Smith, Anthony Grant. SUBS: Ryan McGivern, Chris Birchall, JJ Hooper, Michael Brown, Byron Moore, Ryan Boot, Theo Robinson
CREWE ALEX:Ben Garratt, Oliver Turton, Jon Guthrie, Harry Davis, George Ray, Marcus Haber, David Fox, James Jones, Charlie Kirk, Daniel Udoh, Zoumana Bakayogo. SUBS: Ben Nugent, George Cooper, Lauri Dalla Valle, Billy Bingham, Callum Ainley, Tom Hitchcock.