REPORT: Vale v Sheff Utd
Port Vale v Sheffield United
At Vale Park
Friday 14th April 2017
Attendance 8,999 including 4,330 visiting supporters
Vale dropped three points to champions elect Sheffield United to leave themselves four games to rescue their season, with the drop looking more of a possibility, despite a brave display from the Valiants.
They were in trouble from as early as the second minute when former Vale loanee drove home an angled shot to put the visitors in command after a strong start.
Leon Clarke doubled the Blades’ lead in the 30th minute with a superb 15 yard strike to leave the home side with an even more difficult task and a stoppage time strike from Matt Done put the icing on the cake for the visitors.
Michael Brown made one change to the Vale starting eleven to face League One pacesetters Sheffield United at Vale Park, with the two sides looking for points for contrasting reasons.
Danny Pugh returned to the side after sitting out Vale’s defeat at Chesterfield following his sending off against Rochdale at the Crown Oil Arena four days earlier.
Anthony De Freitas was the player who had to sit the game out to accommodate the experienced midfielder, being named amongst the Vale substitutes.
The visitors made a storming start to the game, putting Vale on the back foot, attacking relentlessly, and it paid off with less than two minutes on the clock.
GOAL: It was former Vale loanee Jay O’Shea who finished things off when he cut inside into the box from the right before drilling an angled shot low into the far corner to give the Blades the perfect start.
It was the last thing Vale had wanted, giving themselves a mountain to climb against a side sitting pretty at the top of the table, but it gave them a clear view of what they would need to do for the rest of the game.
Credit to Michael Brown’s side, who put the disappointment of the goal behind them and started to take the game to the visitors, forcing them to sit back deep inside their own half.
Vale continued to attack, yet it was the same old story in front of goal, with the visitor’s ‘keeper not having too much to do, though Hooper went close when he planted a header just inches wides of the target midway through the first half.
The visitors just soaked it up. Knowing that if they were patient another chance would present itself at the other end, and sure enough that was the case on the half hour.
GOAL: The ball sat up invitingly for Leon Clarke 15 yards from goal, and he duly smashed in into Mehmet’s top left hand corner of the volley.
Vale made a change in the 37th minute when midfielder Billy Reeves was sent into the action, with skipper Ben Purkiss going off.
Vale believed they should have been awarded a spot kick within thirty seconds of the restart when here appeared to be a handball inside the box, but the referee disagreed and waved play on.
Vale then had a let off when a slip saw Clarke get in behind the Vale defence, with a clear run on goal from 40 yards out. He looked certain to score, but Mehmet was quick off his line to make the save.
Moore was forced to go down to his right to keep out a shot from Reeves as Vale continued to press, but it was a rare piece of the action for the visiting goalkeeper.
Vale made another substitution in the 78th minute when Dan Turner was given an opportunity to impress, coming off the bench in a straight swap for JJ Hooper.
And five minutes later Vale made their third and final change with the introduction of fresh legs in the shape of Sam Kelly, who came on to replace Chris Eagles.
GOAL: In the third minute of stoppage time the visitors put the boot in with a third goal when Matt Done fired home from 15 yards, to the delight of the travelling supporters behind the goal.
PORT VALE: Deniz Mehmet, Ben Purkiss, Ryan Taylor, Rigino Cicilia, JJ Hooper, Sam Foley, Daniel Pugh, Kiko, Nathan Smith, Andre Bikey, Chris Eagles. SUBS: Leo Fasan, Remie Streete, Sam Kelly, Dan Turner, Scott Tanser, Anthony De Freitas, Billy Reeves
SHEFFIELD UNITED: Simon Moore, John Fleck, Jack O’Donnell, Chris Basham, Billy Sharp, Matt Done, Jake Wright, Paul Coutts, Ethan Ebanks Landell, Jay O’Shea, Leon Clarke. SUBS: George Long, Marc McNulty, Kieron Freeman, Mark Duffy, Danny Lafferty, Harry Chapman, Samir Caruthers