Port Vale v Coventry City
Sunday 7th February 2016
At Vale Park
Attendance: 6,320 including 1,604 visiting supporters
Vale came from behind to rescue a point against Coventry City and it was no more than they deserved after a particularly good first half performance.
Despite the Vale having much the better of things in the opening forty five minutes they trailed to Murray’s 41st minute goal at the interval when the visitors scored against the run of play.
Understandably, Vale couldn’t replicate their first half dominance after the break and looked to be heading for a defeat, but a blockbuster of a shot from Sam Kelly in the 84th minute, two minutes after coming off the bench, saw Vale finish with something to show for their efforts.
Louis Dodds failed to recover in time from a knock sustained in Vale’s midweek win over Swindon Town, giving Byron Moore the opportunity to take his place on the right in an otherwise unchanged Vale line-up.
Ryan McGivern returned from a one-match suspension to take up a seat on the substitute’s bench, where he was joined by Achille Campion.
Vale showed their attacking intentions right from the kick off, playing at a frantic pace and pinning the visitors deep inside their own half as they went looking to hit them early on.
They were never going to be able to sustain that for too long, but they continued to snap at the heels of the visitors, to challenge quickly for every ball and look like they were more than capable of carving out a goal scoring opportunity.
Theo Robinson, who had kept his place after starting in midweek, was looking menacing and he was within a whisker of connecting with an overhead kick.
Then Ajay Leitch-Smith found an opening on the edge of the Coventry box but Sky Blues’ ‘keeper Reice Charles-Cook was quick to sprint of his line to make the block.
Vale were looking a level above their opponents and continued to rattle at them, Robinson against going close, this time with a back post header which Charles-Cook did well to save.
The game was following a similar pattern to the opening forty five minutes when the two sides met at the Ricoh Arena on Boxing Day, except this time Vale were looking even more dangerous.
There was a bit of respite for the Coventry defence when Lorentzson went down requiring treatment but the Sky Blues man was soon able to resume his duties.
Vale again went close when Robinson and Leitch-Smith combined to send the latter in on goal and the Vale striker was again unfortunate as Charles-Cook saved his first effort, flinging himself to his left and then was quickly up on his feet to save the follow up shot.
Vale were forced to make a change in the 36th minute when Inniss pulled up and he was replaced like for like by Ryan McGivern.
Vale’s flames may have been dampened down a little by this stage, but certainly not extinguished and the visitors threatened for the first time in the 39th minute.
With Dickinson caught out of position after joining the Vale attack and Adam Armstrong cut in from the right, beating two defenders and shot straight at Alnwick – his first save of the game.
GOAL:Two minutes later Coventry were ahead when JACOB MURPHY came in at the back post and fired home, completely against the run of play.
Vale started the second half slowly with the visitors packing men behind the ball and hoping to catch the home side on the break, but before long Vale went close again.
Ten minutes into the second period Leitch-Smith turned sharply on the edge of the box and his left footed shot had goal written all over it, but Charles-Cook reacted superbly to make the save.
Two minutes later a free kick from Carl Dickinson took a deflection and looked to be heading for the corner of the net, but Charles-Cook pulled off a brilliant save to deny Vale once again.
From the resulting corner Richard Duffy met the ball towards he back stick to send a powerful header just inches wide of the target.
Midway through the second half Vale made a second substitution with the introduction of fresh legs in the form of JJ Hooper, who came in to replace Robinson.
Vale continued to threaten to threaten, without actually causing the visitors too many worries, though Coventry were certainly well organised at the back.
A third change for Vale in the 80th minute saw Byron Moore leave the field and Sam Kelly come off the bench.
GOAL:It didn’t take the substitute long to make his mark, just two minutes later KELLY came inside on his left foot and smashed the ball into the top left corner from all of 25 yards.
PORT VALE: Jak Alnwick, Ben Purkiss, Richard Duffy, Ryan Innis, Carl Dickinson, Byron Moore, Anthony Grant, Sam Foley, Matty Kennedy, Theo Robinson, Ajay Leitch-Smith. SUBS: Ryan McGivern, JJ Hooper. Adam Yates, Michael Brown, Sam Kelly, Ryan Boot
COVENTRY CITY: Reice Charles-Cook, Chris Stokes, John Fleck, Adam Armstrong, James Maddison, Martin Lorentzson, Jack Stephens, Andy Rose, Sam Ricketts, Jacob Murphy, Baily Cargill. SUBS: Lee Burge, Jim O’Brien, Joe Cole, Ruben Lameiras, Peter Ramage, Marc-Antoine Fortune, Darius Henderson