On a day where the weather tried it’s utmost to get the fixture called off, the snow storm finally settled, the pitch was cleared and Sky Bet League Two action got back underway at Vale Park.
It was the visitors who created the first opening of the game, and former Valiant Uche Ikpeazu was heavily involved, crossing for Jabo Ibehre to nod goalwards into Ryan Boot’s arms.
Vale fought back with an attack of their own minutes later, as the ball finally fell to David Worrall after a spell of ping-pong inside the Cambridge United box. Worrall’s shot seemed destined for the top corner, if not for Jake Carroll who flicked the ball over the bar from inches out.
Whitfield looked lively throughout, breezing past his men, and with 20 minutes on the clock he played Montano in behind the U’s defence. Montano delivered a dangerous, low cross across the box, which was swept away from Tom Pope who had a tap-in.
Vale dominated possession in the first half, and with that came chances.
Chances for Pope, Whitfield and Montano went begging with only half an hour on the clock, and Vale were looking threatening with every attack.
Montano’s chance you would argue was the best of the lot, after Gunning collected a loose ball, beat the defender and slipped the Colombian through on goal. Montano went wide and struck a fierce shot that was parried away by Forde, and there were no Vale players positioned to tuck away the rebound.
Cambridge United did have the ball in the back of the net, but the goal was disallowed as Boot was impeded after coming out and commandingly collecting a corner kick.
The deadlock was broken minutes later as Ben Whitfield and David Worrall combined to feed Cristian Montano. Montano received the ball, created a yard of space for himself and smashed his shot across Forde and just inside the far post.
Montano’s late strike gave Vale exactly what they needed and deserved going into the half-time break.
HALF-TIME: Port Vale 1 – 0 Cambridge United
Vale came blistering out of the changing room for the second half, as it took only two minutes for that man Montano to double his goal tally, and Vale’s lead. The ball fell to him two-yards out following Nathan Smith’s flick-on from David Worrall’s corner.
Vale were looking threating at all times, and Cambridge were looking shaky at the back.
Worrall pounced on a loose ball deep in the U’s half, played in Pope who went for the audacious effort to chip the ball over the ‘keeper but his shot bounced wide of the goal.
Despite the two goal deficit, United grew into the game and had a 10-minute spell of sustained pressure. Vale’s defence though, stood strong and quelled every attack that was thrown their way.
With 20-minutes left, Montano went searching for his hat-trick and unleashed a 25-yard effort the skimmed just wide of the post. This proved to be his last moment in the game as he received a standing ovation whilst making way for Danny Pugh.
Vale began opening up Cambridge United at will, and James Gibbons was nearly in on the action. The ball fell to him on the volley on the six-yard box as Pugh’s volley from the edge of the box was deflected high in the air. The youngster side-footed the ball goalwards and watched his effort whistle just wide of the goal.
The closing stages of the game were comfortably seen out by the Valiants who recorded only their third home league win of the season.
However, there was still enough time on the clock for Uche Ikpeazu to be sent off after a late, reckless challenge on his return to Vale Park.
FULL-TIME: Port Vale 2 - 0 Cambridge United
PORT VALE: Boot, Gibbons, Anderson, Smith, Gunning, Kay, Tonge, Worrall, Montano (71), Whitfield (66), Pope ©
SUBS: Lainton, Denton, Reeves, Pugh (71), Harness, Turner, Barnett (66)
CAMBRIDGE UNITED: Forde, Halliday, Carroll, Taylor, Legge ©, Mingoia (54), Ikpeazu, Dunk (54), Ibehre (50), O’Neill, Elito
SUBS: Azeez (50), Taft, Mitov, Maris (54), Brown (54), Lewis, Davies
ATTENDANCE: 3,129, 205 visitors