Doncaster Rovers v Port Vale
At the Keepmoat Stadium
Tuesday 26th January 2016
Attendance: 4,799 including 176 visiting supporters
Vale got back to winning ways with a well-deserved victory at the Keepmoat Stadium to complete the double over Doncaster Rovers.
Ajay Leitch-Smith was once again on the mark with a goal in each half – his ninth and tenth goal in fourteen games. The home side pulled a goal back three minutes form time but it was too late to make a difference.
There is no denying Vale came under pressure at times in the game as the home side threw bodies forward in an attempt to get back into the game.
But Vale ‘keeper Jak Alnwick didn’t have the busiest of nights and much of that was down to the sterling work done by his team mates.
Rob Page made two changes to the starting eleven as Vale went looking for a positive result at the Keepmoat Stadium against Darren Ferguson’s Doncaster Rovers.
Michael O’Connor returned to the side, replacing Sam Foley in the middle of the park and new loan signing Matty Kennedy replaced Sam Kelly on the left.
Former Doncaster striker Theo Robinson had to wait for his Port Vale debut as he was named on the bench.
In a fairly even start to the game, Jak Alnwick was the first of the two goalkeepers to be tested, first pushing a shot away to his right and then immediately after that holding on to an effort from James Coppinger.
GOAL: Vale’s reaction to that came a minute later when the visitors took the lead. New loan signing flicked the ball to his right for AJAY LEITCH-SMITH, who calmly lifted the ball over Rovers’ ‘keeper Thirsten Stuckmann.
Ajay almost returned the favour in the 10th minute when he unselfishly fed Kennedy to his left, but this time Stuckmann did well to block the shot.
The home side started to up their game a bit, knocking the ball about well, but Vale were in no mood to sit back and watch and stayed solid at the back.
And when the Vale rearguard was breeched, ‘keeper Jak Alnwick was alert and quick to come off his line to collect the ball.
On saying that, Vale looked a little vulnerable in the 27th minute when they were opened up too easily, but with just Alnwick to beat, the unmarked Chaplow failed to keep his close range header on target.
Vale were having their share of the ball too and although Stuckmann was rarely tested, they were having enough of the ball inside the Doncaster half to suggest they could inflict further damage on their hosts.
Kennedy was impressing with his running and his work-rate both on and off the ball and it was easy to see why the manager was so keen to get him in.
One poor fellow in the press box got a soaking when Anthony Grant belted the ball out of play. The ball hit the underside of the roof and came don at an angle to smash into the reporters cup of tea, which went everywhere.
There was a stoppage in play for Doncaster ‘keeper Stuckmann to receive treatment after he fell awkwardly on his right shoulder when challenged by Leitch-Smith.
The home side made a substitution at the start of the second half as Stuckmann was unable to continue, and his place was taken by Marko Marosi.
As could have been predicted, the home side stormed forward in the opening minutes of the second period, but a determined Vale defence put their bodies on the line, making several important blocks and interceptions.
While the home side continued to look dangerous, Jak Alnwick still had little to do, but Vale were offering very little up the other end.
GOAL: That all changed in the 65th minute, however, when Vale doubled their advantage, and it was the prolific AJAY LEITCH-SMITH who was once more on the mark.
Matty Kennedy set JJ Hooper on a run and he in turn played the ball to his right to Leitch-Smith. His first shot was block but perseverance paid off for the in-form striker when he fired home at the second attempt.
After picking up a yellow card and being a little fortunate not to pick up a second a few minutes later, debutant Kennedy was taken off in the 74th minute and Sam Foley came off the bench to take his place.
If the home side had believed they could still get something out of the game it gradually dawned on them that it was highly unlikely – Vale were not in the mood for that to happen.
With five minutes remaining Theo Robinson came on for his Vale debut, replacing a hard working JJ Hooper who was no doubt pleased to get a rest.
GOAL: Two minutes later the home side pulled a goal back with what can only be described as a fluke, when a cross from the left by Cedric Evena flew over Alnwick and into the far top corner.
Alnwick pulled off a superb save in stoppage time, diving full length to his left to push the ball away as the visitors went flat out for a late equaliser.
Vale made a third change in the fourth minute of stoppage time when Ryan Inniss came on for Michael O’Connor and a minute later the referee blew the full time whistle.
DONCASTER ROVERS: Thorsten Stuckmann, Mitchell Lund, Cedric Evina, Luke McCullough, Richard Chaplow, Lynden Gooch, Andy Williams, Aaron Taylor-Sinclair, Conor Grant, James Coppinger, Craig Alcock. SUBS: Eddy Lecygne, Curtis Main, Dany N’Guessan, Gary MacKenzie, Paul Keegan, Liam Mandeville, Marko Marosi
PORT VALE: Jak Alnwick, Adam Yates, Richard Duffy, Ryan McGivern, Carl Dickinson, Louis Dodds, Anthony Grant, Michael, O’Connor,Matty Kennedy, JJ Hooper, Ajay Leitch-Smith. SUBS: Chris Neal, Ben Purkiss, Michael Brown, Sam Kelly, Sam Foley, Ryan Inniss, Theo Robinson