Port Vale v Scunthorpe United
Saturday 12th December 2015
At Vale Park
Attendance: 3,983 including 221 visiting supporters
On a wet and windy miserable afternoon, Vale were forced to settle for a single point against Scunthorpe United on a heavy Vale Park pitch.
Rob Page’s side had to come back from behind after Jack King had put the visitors in front in the 36th minute, getting the slightest of touches on a left wing corner to steer the ball past Jak Alnwick.
Vale drew level in first half stoppage time when Ajay Leitch-Smith netted his sixth goal of the season and Vale almost snatched the three points at the death when visiting ‘keeper Luke Daniels blocked a shot from Ryan McGivern on the line with is feet.
Rob Page made two changes from the eleven who started at St James Park in Vale’s FA Cup defeat to Exeter City and one positional change, as Vale looked to get back to winning ways.
In came winger Sam Kelly to take the place of Sam Foley on the Vale left and Ryan McGivern switched back to the centre of the defence, with Adam Yates coming in at left back, with skipper Carl Dickinson serving the second of a three-match suspension.
Incessant rain during the morning and earl afternoon meant the pitch was on the heavy side and in fact it had taken two pitch inspections before the referee gave the game the nod.
Vale were bossing affairs early on in the game and while you would be foolish to judge a game of football on the opening exchanges, it was certainly looking promising for the Valiants.
Throw in the odd error like when Ryan McGivern tripped over his own feet, allowing Kevin vand Veen to escape his attentions in the 9th minute and it becomes obvious why the game can be so unoredictable.
The Scunthorpe front fan sprinted on to the byline, looked up to see Paddy Madden in space on the six yard line and sent in the perfect cross from the right.
Thankfully, from a Vale point of view, Madden, unmarked, somehow managed to miss the target, heading wide of Jak Alnwick’s left hand post.
Vale continued to play on the front foot and went close to opening the scoring when Ajay Leitch-Smith twisted and turned just inside the box to finally make room for a shot, which dropped inches over the crossbar.
Sam Kelly, often drifting inside to occupy a more central role, looked lively whenever he got the ball, but despite dominating things, Vale did little to test goalkeeper Luke Daniels.
When Vale finally had the ball in the net in the 31st minute – Leitch-Smith finishing from close range after latching on to Michael O’Connor’s through ball, the flag had already been raised for offside.
GOAL: Vale were to rue missed chances when the visitors took the lead in the 36th minute, JACK KING getting a flick on to Luke Williams’ left wing corner at the front post and the ball flew into the opposite corner of the net.
It seemed more than a little harsh on the home side after they had more or less controlled the game up to that point, but if you don’t capitalise on things, you are always open to a similar outcome.
GOAL: In the second minute of first half stoppage time Vale managed to level the scores when AJAY LEITCH-SMITH showed a terrific first touch to control Chris Birchall’s ball over the top. He kept his cool, making room for a shot before firing low into the bottom left hand corner of the net.
The fact that the rain continued to fall didn’t make it any easier on an already heavy playing surface, but players from both sides seemed adapt quite well.
Kelly earned himself a yellow card for a tackle from behind after he had lost the ball just outside the Scunthorpe penalty area, with Vale struggling to penetrate the visitors’ back line.
Chances were few and far between and King spurned a half chance to put the visitors in front for a second time, when his first time shot flew over Alnwick’s crossbar.
Vale then made their firt change of the afternoon, with Uche Ikpeazu coming off the bench as a durect replacement for Louis Dodds with 64 minutes on the clock.
A foul on Anthony Grant 20 yards from goal almost saw Vale take full advantage, but Michael O’Connor’s free kick crashed against the crossbar.
In the melee that followed, the ball fell to the feet of Leitch-Smith, but his 15 yard shot was blocked on the line before the visitors managed to clear their lines.
Vale made a second substitution on the 75 minute mark when Chris Birchall was replaced by Sam Foley and with five minutes remaining JJ Hoper replaces Leitch-Smith.
Vale began to pile on the pressure late on in the game, but in the end they had to settle for a share of the points.
PORT VALE: Jak Alnwick, Ben Purkiss, Ryan McGivern, Richard Duffy, Adam Yates, Chris Birchall, Anthony Grant, Michael O’Connor, Sam Kelly, Louis Dodds, Ajay Leitch-Smith. SUBS: Chris Neal, Uche Ikpeazu, Colin Daniel, JJ Hooper, Sam Foley, Remie Streete, Aziz Deen-Conteh.
SCUNTHORPE UNITED: Luke Daniels, Scott Wiseman, Scott Laird, Niall Canavan, Luke Williams, Patrick Madden, Kevin van Veen, Neal Bishop, Jack King, Tommy Rowe, Charlie Goode. SUBS: Joe Anyon, Darius Henderson, Hakeeb Adelakun, Andrew Boyce, Jamie Ness, Kyle Wooton, Jordan Clarke