A frustrating afternoon ended in defeat for Port Vale after a late goal from Crawley Town secured all three points for The Reds. Nathan Smith’s unfortunate own goal just eight minutes from time allowed Crawley to come back from behind after Tom Pope’s opener in the first-half.
The Valiants started the half well and looked to show their dangerous threat straight away with Tom Pope heading a thrilling effort towards goal. Somehow, Glenn Morris got his fingertips to it as the whole of Vale Park was shocked to see that it didn’t go in.
Another chance soon came coming as a dominant Pope came thriving again. This time, his effort struck the post from close range, Michael Tonge tried to get there with the rebound but Crawley already cleared their lines on 18 minutes.
Finally, it was lift off for The Valiants as Pope put them ahead just minutes later. James Gibbons played an excellent one-two with David Worrall before delivering a low cross to Vale’s number nine who finished his 18th goal of the season.
Vale wanted to extend their lead further and looked to be on the attack. But, under mysterious circumstances Crawley Town were given a penalty under innocuous conditions. Josh Payne stepped up and converted for The Reds into the bottom corner.
Cristian Montano had so far impressed in the opening half an hour and made a darting run through the middle of the park. His left-footed strike dipped just over bar.
The second half once again started brightly, with The Valiants looking to attack from the off. Ben Whitfield’s effort was low and hard towards the near post as Harry Kewell’s men were keen to clear on 52 minutes.
Whitfield yet again came to cause all sorts of problems, trying his luck from the 18-yard area only to be caught by Morris in the Crawley goal.
Cristian Montano was then brought off due to an injury as Joe Davis came on to replace him.
Replicating his positive performance against Crewe on Monday, Sam Hornby continued to impress as he retrieved possession from Charlie Raglan’s mistake, making a brave save.
Drama continued at Vale Park with referee, Mike Jones, becoming talk of the match by making a few dubious decisions for both sides throughout the game.
Out of nowhere, The Reds were in the lead. Enzo Boldewijn made a darting run down the right-hand side and delivered a cross from the byline. Unfortunately for Nathan Smith, his attempted clearance went into his own net as Crawley went ahead. The pressure was now on for Vale with just five minutes to play.
It was park the bus from then on for Harry Kewell’s men as The Valiants were unable to break their last line of defence. The full-time whistle was blown as we look forward to hosting Lincoln City next weekend.
Port Vale Team: Hornby, Gibbons, Raglan, Smith, Montano (Davis 63), Kay (Barnett 85), Tonge, Hannant, Worrall, Whitfield (Harness 80), Pope.
Unused Subs: Lainton, Howe, Forrester, Turner.
Crawley Town Team: Morris, Young, Payne, Connolly, Boldewijin (Lelan 90), Smith, Grant (Verheydt 84), Yorweth, Tajbakhsh, Bulman, Camara (Roberts 58).
Unused Subs: Mersin, Doherty, McNerney, Sanoh.