Port Vale came within two minutes of coming away from The County Ground with a point against Swindon Town. First-half goals from Cristian Montano and Michael Tonge saw Vale looking lively in the first-half, but in the end it wasn’t enough.
The Valiants headed into today’s game knowing that it would be a tough fixture. Without a win in 2018, Neil Aspin and his players travelled to the County Ground and made four changes from last week’s defeat to Cheltenham Town.
It was a great start for Vale. The first attempt of the game came just two minutes in, as Cristian Montano’s strike just inside the box was blocked and headed out for a corner. After a moment of pinball, Nathan Smith put the ball in the net, but it was ruled out for offside.
The Valiants took the lead early on through Michael Tonge, after Worrall’s free kick was delivered deep towards the back post and Tom Pope headed the ball back across the goal for an easy finish for the midfielder. Vale continued to apply pressure and continued to cause Swindon’s defence issues. Two corners within a minute, one of which Tom Pope headed just over the bar, as the Valiants look for a second.
However, Swindon Town equalised in the 23rd minute. Against the run of play, Matt Taylor whipped the ball across the box from the right-hand side to find Marc Richards free as he nodded home. A very quiet ten minutes followed as both teams struggled to maintain possession or create chances, with Norris attempting one from 20 yards, flying just over the bar.
Swindon then added a second, turning the game on its head. Richards doubled his tally with a composed finish after Vale keeper Ryan Boot’s clearance smacked against Kyle Howkins and fell to Luke Norris who squared the ball for Richards to slot home.
Their lead lasted just four minutes, as Vale quickly equalised through Montano who got on the end of a brilliant corner from Tonge. The Colombian headed home powerfully from six-yards to bring the game level once again.
Vale started the second half strongly, who managed to keep Swindon pegged back in their own third for the first 5 minutes. Substitute Joe Davis got on the end of a powerful Tonge corner, but directed the ball just over the bar.
Vale couldn’t get the ball out of their own half, and Swindon were unlucky not to take the lead on a couple of occasions, with Ollie Banks putting the ball over the bar from inside the six-yard box in the 54th minute.
Both teams failed to create any chances until Swindon substitute Kaiyne Wollary almost made an instant impact in the 65th minute. Wollary cut in on his left foot and drilled a shot into the arms of Boot. The crowd started to come alive in the second half after a few hard challenges on the pitch. Chances were few and far between for the entire 45 minutes, Tonge snatched at a shot in the 79th minute wide of the post.
Pope received the first booking of the game late on through dissent as substitute Tyrone Barnett was replaced in the 83rd minute by Donovan Wilson, having picked up a knock.
It looked like the game could go either way, but it was Vale conceded in the end in the 89th minute. Swindon substitute Paul Mullin somehow managed to get a touch on the end of a very low cross from the right wing, the ball going over Boot and into the Vale net.
Despite a spirited performance from Neil Aspin’s side, the Valiants come away with nothing, still searching for their first win of the year, with Newport County AFC visiting Vale Park next week.