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Ben Whitfield: "We deserved all three points."

4 November 2018

Port Vale extended their unbeaten run to five games in all competitions on Saturday afternoon against Notts County, but Ben Whitfield insists he and his teammates deserved more than a draw.

Luke Hannant had given the Valiants the lead 14 minutes into the game before Kane Hemmings ensured the scores were level at half-time. Neil Aspin's men then dominated the second half, but fell behind three minutes from time when Elliott Ward found the net against the run of play.

The response from Vale was superb, and with 90 minutes on the clock, Tom Pope salvaged an equaliser with a looping header to spark euphoric scenes around Vale Park. Whitfield was impressed by the character of his teammates to earn a point, but he was disappointed not to get all three.

He said: "Luckily we had Tom Pope there to score the equaliser, but I didn't think we deserved to be in that position in the first place. We definitely deserved all three points today, but whenever there's a chance for Popey in that position, he's not missing from there.

"When Notts County took the lead I couldn't believe it. We battled really hard and there were some excellent performances all over the pitch, we created more chances than we ever have, and we merited more than a draw - a defeat wouldn't have been fair on us as a team.

"After the Lincoln defeat we were given a kick in the teeth and we really needed to work hard, and ever since that game we've come out fighting. We've kept clean sheets as well so it was a dampener on things to let Notts County score from a set play today, but if we hadn't have taken at least a point, that wouldn't have been right."

After linking up well with Tom Pope last season during his loan spell from AFC Bournemouth, the midfielder partnered the experienced striker in a more attacking role on Saturday afternoon, and Whitfield believes the pair complimented each other to cause the opposition defence problems.

Despite it being an unfamiliar role for Whitfield, he created a host of chances for Vale and he also provided the assist for Luke Hannant's headed goal in the first half, something which the players have had a joke about in the changing room.

"Luke doesn't really score many headers, especially from one of my crosses, but I was buzzing for him when it went in because it was a great header. I'm not sure about the celebation and we need to watch that back, but he played really well today and he was well worthy of his goal," Whitfield said.

"I thought that was me getting back to my best, but there's still more to come from me as there is with everyone. With myself and Popey up there, it felt like last season and I was getting back to where I was then.

"If I'd have scored today then it would've rounded off a good performance from me, but it wasn't to be and I'll just have to settle take the assist. The fans always give me a good reception, but they knew as well that we weren't worthy of losing the game.

"Even when we went down you could see the fight and effort from all of the lads to go and get an equaliser. We were getting forward to win corners and throw-ins late on, but we battled right until the end luckily we were rewarded with a goal."

With Sunderland up next for Vale in the Emirates FA Cup, Whitfield is hoping that the players can take their confidence into that tie and put in a good performance in front of what is expected to be a bumper crowd at Vale Park.

He saie: "They're the games you want to play and you always want to test yourself against the better teams. Not so long ago they were in the Premier League, and to play it at home, hopefully there will be a lot of fans here and the crowd can get behind us.

"It's a game that everybody wants to be involved in, but the lads put in a solid performance today and hopefully we can work on that in training this week to take that into the game on Sunday to perform for the fans and ourselves."


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