The Valiants eight game unbeaten run at Vale Park came to an end at the hands of Exeter City tonight, with Jordan Storey’s goal in the first half proving to be the difference between the two teams. Neil Aspin’s side made two changes from the 2-2 draw against Stevenage at the weekend, as Vale looked for their first win of 2018.
It was a bright start for Vale, as they nearly found the back of the net after only two minutes. The ball was delivered into the box from Dave Worrall, who found Tyrone Barnett at the back post, but headed just wide of the left-hand post.
Vale found themselves creating the better chances in the early stages of the game, with the Vale supporters getting behind the team. Worrall broke away down the right wing in the 10th minute; which brought the fans to their feet, but his cross towards the near post was dealt with well by the Exeter defence.
The Valiants remained on top as the game started to settle down, with the team creating two more good opportunities to score within the first 20 minutes. Anton Forrester nodded the ball down to Worrall in the eighteen, but his strike flew wide of the left-hand post on 16 minutes. Forrester found space himself inside the box on the 19th minute, but drilled his strike wide of the same post.
Despite the great start from the home side, it was Exeter who found the back of the net first. The ball was delivered into the box from the left wing on the 24th minute, and Jordan Storey found himself with space in the six-yard box, and he tucked the ball home easily into the bottom right corner.
The Grecians took control of the game after the goal, nearly doubling their tally only a few minutes later, Storey got beyond the defence and played the ball across the box from the by-line. It would have been an east tap in for captain Jake Taylor, but a great defensive block from Michael Tonge prevented The Valiants from falling two behind.
Worrall delivered quality balls into the box throughout the first half, and Vale very nearly found themselves level in the 29th minute. Barnett rocked the crossbar after rising above the defender at the back post. Only the fingertips of keeper Christy Pym saved Exeter, as he managed to tip it onto the bar and over.
Luke Hannant, who scored his first professional goal on Tuesday against Stevenage, nearly doubled that tally, as he received the ball just inside the box. He cut inside past the defender onto his right foot, and curled his strike just over the bar on 37 minutes.
It was a quiet start to the second half, with both teams failing to create any clear chances early on. Vale’s first chance of the half nearly resulted in the equaliser on the 58th minute. Charlie Raglan got up to win the header off a Tonge corner, but it was cleared off the line by an Exeter defender.
The Valiants were fortunate not to find themselves two goals down shortly afterwards. The ball fell to Hiram Boateng in the Vale penalty area on 61 minutes, and his strike deflected off Nathan Smith, luckily into the arms of Ryan Boot in goal.
Vale took control of the second half afterwards, putting the Exeter goal under real pressure. None came closer to equalising than Hannant, who nearly found himself on the score sheet once again on 67 minutes. He struck the ball hard from outside the box, and goalkeeper Pym could only stand and watch as the ball just flew past his left-hand post.
The Valiants pushed hard for the equaliser, as the home support grew louder. Substitute Ben Whitfield looked as if he’d found the leveller, but Pym somehow managed to deny him from close range on 74 minutes, before keeping hold of Hannant’s rebound.
Aspin’s men kept Exeter pinned back in their own half for the majority of the final ten minutes, but failed to create any clear-cut chances to rescue a point. Danny Pugh delivered a dangerous ball deep into the box in added time, but Pym rose well, above Kyle Howkins to punch clear.
The full time whistle sounded to bring The Valiants’ eight game unbeaten run at home to an end. The defeat takes Vale down to 20th place in the table; still seven points clear of the relegation zone.