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Neil Aspin: "I would've been disappointed if we had drawn."

2 September 2018

Neil Aspin believes his Port Vale side were unfortunate to fall to their first home defeat of the season in Sky Bet League Two on Saturday afternoon, going down 2-1 Against Newport County.

Tom Pope pulled the Valiants back on level terms with a record-breaking goal midway through the first half, but a Dan Butler strike on 47 minutes proved enough to secure a victory for the Exiles.

That was despite several close encounters for the hosts, with Pope and Ricky Miller both striking the upright. Aspin was also forced to watch a strong penalty appeal waved away, and the manager was frustrated to have lost the game.

He said: “I try to be as honest as I can and I don’t think we have been good enough in some games, especially last weekend when, as an attacking threat, we were poor.

“However, today was different and I would’ve been disappointed if we had drawn. I felt we deserved to win the game and we certainly pushed to make chances, hitting the woodwork a couple of times.

“Then the two goals we conceded were both deflections which have gone against us, so we have had no luck whatsoever.

“I know people will say that’s an excuse, but it’s not, we’re not getting any luck at all and sometimes you need that in a game. I can’t fault the attitude of the players because I thought they did well today.

“We should’ve had a penalty, there is no question about that. I’ve seen it again and it is a handball, but what are we meant to do because we’ve had an apology three weeks running.”

Having suffered three successive defeats in Sky Bet League Two, the Vale squad will be eager to put things right next weekend as they travel to face Forest Green Rovers away from home.

Despite a difficult fortnight of results, Aspin believes his side have enough quality to win games in the division and he insists that they will be in positive mood during training in preparation for the next fixture.

“I realise I’m responsible for results and they are not going our way at the moment, but we’ve got to keep fighting to turn it around,” he said.

“We’ve got to come in on Monday and be positive again, but we certainly deserve a stroke of luck as well.

“You’re always going to leave yourselves a little open when you’re chasing a game, but I think the initial shot for their first goal was going wide and we may have deflected it into their path.

“For the second one, Monty has tried to clear it and it has ricocheted straight back to their player, but I think we could’ve then defended the cross better.

“In general, we’ve tested their keeper more, we’ve hit the woodwork, got crosses into the box and played at a decent tempo. I don’t want to be too critical because I thought we played well enough to win games.”

One plus point from Saturday’s defeat was the performance of Ricky Miller when he was introduced as a second-half substitute, and the striker could have netted a hat-trick on another day.

He struck the post with a curling effort late on, as did Pope in the first half, and both forwards looked dangerous together in the final third. The latter’s 56th goal at Vale Park means he is now the all-time record scorer at the ground, and Aspin was full of praise for Pope.

He said: “I’m delighted for Tom and that’s a plus on a disappointing day. I’m really pleased that he has broken the record whilst I’ve been manager here, and he deserves all he gets.

“He’s a player that works extremely hard, he will play through injuries, and today we provided him with some service which is what he needs. As everybody knows, if we do get balls into him, he will score goals.

“As for Ricky, I signed him so I have faith that he can score goals, but he hasn’t played well over the last few games so I think he needed to come out of it.

“He is still learning at this level so I felt that it would do him good to bring him on to make an impact, which is what he did. 

“Ricky needs to do what he did today, but for 90 minutes when he plays. If he does that, he will score goals.”


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