Report from the Alexandra StadiumCrewe Alexandra v Port Vale
At the Alexandra Stadium
Saturday 8th August 2015
Attendance: 6,751 including 2309 visiting supporters,
Despite dominating the opening forty five minutes of the first game of the season and having marginally the better of things in the second half, Vale had to settle for a single point against Crewe Alexandra.
Vale played some great stuff, especially in the first half, but could not find that elusive winning goal, but that was as much to do with an eye-catching display by home ‘keeper Ben Garratt than Vale’s lack of power in front of goal.
Garratt made several top drawer saves to deny the Vale and deservedly picked up the man of the match award for the Alex.
After joining the club on Thursday is came as no surprise to see former Newcastle ‘keeper Jak Alnwick thrust straight into the action with a starting place for the Vale at the Alexandra Stadium.
For much -awaited encounter, since the fixtures for the new season were announced on June 17th, boss Rob Page included six of his summer signings in the starting eleven.
Vale started brightly, bossing the play in the middle of the park. The visitors were more or less camped inside the Crewe half, with the home side struggling to make any headway.
Despite all f their possession, Vale rarely tested home ‘keeper Ben Garratt, but last year’s player of the year was probably grateful to see a 20 yard effort from former team mate Byron Moore flash over his crossbar.
Vale went close again when Ikpeazu pulled the ball back to Louis Dodds on the edge of the box – his shot was well held by Garratt, with Sam Foley close in attendance, waiting to feed on any scraps.
Midway through the first half Crewe finally threatened, with two goal-bound shots in quick succession blocked by players in white shirts.
Garratt did well to claw away an inswinging left wing corner taken by Sam Foley from under his crossbar, as Vale continued to dominate affairs.
In the 44th minute Louis Dodds will perhaps be thinking he ought to have found the net when Purkiss sent in a low cross from the right, Dodds seemed to have connected well, but Garratt made the save.
Then in stoppage time Garratt was forced to save again, going t=down sharply to keep out an effort from Foley, after another neat Vale move.
Vale started the second half well and had the ball in the net on 48 minutes after Ikpeazu ran at the Crewe defence, turned back from the byeline and smashed the ball into the roof of the net – however, he had taken the ball over the line before pulling back and the referee rightly awarded a goal kick.
The home side were enjoying a lot more of the ball in the second half, without troubling either the Vale back four or debutant Jak Alnwick.
Rob Page made a change midway through the second period, introducing the pace of Enoch Andoh, with Sam Kelly making way.
Andoh was causing the home defence all sorts of problems out on the left flank with his pace and Vale went close after another run by the winger saw the ball played to the feet of Ikpeazu.
The former Crewe loanee looked odds on to score, but his attempt to slot the ball low to Garratt’s left was read by the Alex ‘keeper, who made yet another save.
Val made their third change in the 79th minute, with former Crewe striker Ajay Leitch Smith coming on for Uche Ikpeazu.
Vale again went close when, four minutes from time, the home side only half cleared Byron Moore’s right wing corner kick and Andoh tried a low 20 yard drive, but again Garratt got down to save.
The sponsors’ choice for the man of the match was announced on the tannoy just seconds later and it was no surprise to hear they had chosen the Crewe goalkeeper.
CREWE ALEX: Ben Garratt, Oliver Turton, Jon Guthrie, George Ray, Ben Nugent, Marcus Haber, Bradden Inman, Lauri Dalla Valle, David Fox, Adam King, Billy Bingham. SUBS: Dave Richards, Chris Atkinson, George Cooper, Callum Saunders, James Baillie, Ryan Wintle, Ryan Colclough
PORT VALE: Sam Johnson, Chris Birchall, Colin Daniel, Michael Brown, Ajay Leitch-Smith, Enoch Andoh, Ryan InnissSUBS:Jak Alnwick, Ben Purkiss, Carl Dickinson, Remie Streete, Richard Duffy, Uche Ikpeazu, Louis Dodds, Sam Foley, Sam Kelly, Byron Moore, Anthony Grant.
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There will be a full match report on the official website moments after the final whistle, with player and manager interviews to come later.
A match gallery (photos courtesy of Gerard Austin) will also appear on the site soon.