Walsall v Port Vale
Sunday 20th December 2015
At The Banks’s Stadium
Attendance: 4,436 including 400 visiting supporters
Vale made the shirt trip back down the M6 empty-handed, despite bossing for large periods of the game at the Banks’s Stadium, after Walsall substitute Jordan Cook struck twice in the second half.
After going in at half time on level terms, Vale began the second period well on top and could count themselves a little unfortunate not to get the goal their play deserved.
But a slip by Anthony Grant in the 63rd minute, when he was attempting to bring the ball out from the Vale box and towards the halfway line presented the home side with a chance they had been waiting for and Cook struck from close range. Cook netted again in the 83rd minute and there was no coming back for the Valiants.
Rob Page made one change for the game against high-flying Walsall, live on Sky TV, Vale’s final game before Christmas.
Byron Moore Had recovered sufficiently to make the starting eleven and he came in to replace Chris Birchall out on the right as Vale faced the Saddlers with two out and out wingers in Moore and Sam Kelly.
New Walsall boss Sean O’Driscoll was without twelve-goal top goal scorer Tom Bradshaw, who suffered an ankle injury in Walsall’s recent game against Shrewsbury Town.
Vale had the ball in the net as early as the third minute when Richard Duffy prodded home after Ryan McGivern’s header had been spilled by ‘keeper Neil Etheridge, only to see the linesman’s flag raised.
The home side were knocking the ball around well early in the game, but Vale looked dangerous when going forward and they went close on a couple of occasions.
Adam Yates was left exposed on too many occasions, being pressed by two players becauseSam Kelly wasn’t getting back to help.
Former Vale loanee Romaine Sawyers wasn’t too far off target with a shot from just outside the box, but despite playing some good stuff, the home side were not dominating the game by any stretch of the imagination.
At the other end Richard Duffy went close with a header, climbing highest to reach Michael O’Connor’s free kick from out on the right.
Vale were having more and more of the ball and again went close in the 33rd minute when Saddlers’ ‘keeper Etheridge pushed a 20 yard drive from Kelly around the post.
The home crowd were beginning to get a little edgey with their team as half time approached, which as testament to the job Vale were doing preventing them from playing their usual game.
Vale began the second half on the front foot and in the 50th minute went close to opening the scoring but Leitch-Smith was denied when Etheridge saved at the near post.
Anthony Grant then almost finished of a neat Vale move in style with a dipping 25 yard drive which dropped just over the Walsall crossbar.
Vale were forced into a change ten minutes into the second half when Louis Dodds pulled up with an injury and he went off, to be replaced by Uche Ikpeazu.
Despite Vale having the better of things up to that point, they fell behind in the 63rd minute after Anthony Grant slipped when attempting to run with the ball.
GOAL:Anthony Forde picked up the loose ball and tried a shot, which was palmed out by Alnwick, only for substitute Jordan Cook to follow up to score from close range.
Shortly afterwards George Evans went close with a blistering 20 yard drive which flew just inches of the Vale crossbar.
Vale made their second change in the 71st minute when Sam Foley came off the bench to take the place of Kelly down the Vale left.
With their noses in front, the home side were playing with confidence once again. Vale needed something special if they were to give themselves a chance of getting something from the game.
GOAL:Vale pushed hard for an equaliser but as they were preparing to make a third substitution with JJ Hooper stripping off, Cook struck a second for the home side to all but kill Vale’s chances.
Vale then made the change, with Hooper coming on and Byron Moore going off, leaving the afore-mentioned just seven minutes to make his mark on the game.
WALSALL:Neil Etheridge, Jason Demetriou, Andy Taylor, James O’Connor, Paul Downing, Adam Chembers, Romaine Sawyers, Anthony Forde, Milan Lalkovic, Kieron Morris, George Evans. SUBS: Sam Mantom, James Baxendale, Liam Roberts, Matt Preston, Reece Flanagan, Jordan Cook, Liam Kinsella
PORT VALE: Jak Alnwick, Ben Purkiss, Richrd Duffy, Ryan McGivern, Adam Yates, Byron Moore, Anthony Grant, Michael O’Connor, Sam Kelly, Louis Dodds, Ajay Leitch-Smith. SUBS: Chris Neal, Remie Streete, Uche ikpeazu, Sam Foley, Colin Daniel, JJ Hooper, Chris Birchall`