Neil Aspin looked on as his side deservedly ran out as victory against Northampton Town on Saturday afternoon, and the boss was pleased with the overall display as everything came together.
Following a run of four games without a win, Aspin was keen to ensure Vale recorded three points at home. Despite the relatively straightforward nature of the triumph, he didn’t expect the Cobblers to be easy opposition.
He said: “We needed a result there is no question about that, but I thought the performance was good today because I feel that Northampton are a better team than their league position would suggest.
“I think that everybody looks for reasons if you’re not doing well or if you’re not winning games, but the players have always been good to work with and I’ve always felt that they want to do well.
“They’ve had some poor decisions against them this season which they’ve had to contend with, but today they got what they deserved and I’m really pleased for them.
“The Newport performance at home was a good one and we didn’t get the result, but it encouraged me for the next game.
“Then at Forest Green we played well against a difficult opponent, so we knew that if we played at our best this afternoon we could get a result, but I wouldn’t underestimate Northampton because on their day they could beat any team in this league.”
After overhauling his squad during the summer months, Aspin was keen to take the goal scoring burden off of Tom Pope as he looked for other players to chip in with strikes.
That was the case on this occasion as Ben Whitfield and Manny Oyeleke both finding the net with brilliant finishes, but the manager was delighted with the all-round showing from both midfielders.
Despite Pope not finding the net this time out, Aspin was also quick to praise the job that the striker does and he admits that he is the team’s ‘focal point’ in the final third.
He said: “With Ben, he is just delighted to be back and his attitude since he returned has been excellent - that’s all I’ve ever wanted from him. He did well last week and he deserved to start.
“Manny is a player I signed as I felt that he could improve the midfield and do well, but we haven’t been able to get him on the pitch as much as we would’ve liked.
“He played last week and now today which will do his confidence a world of good, not just the goal because I thought his all-round performance was very good.”
On the impact of Pope, he added: “Tom is old school and it’s a dying breed, but I’m happy to have him here and he’s done a great job for me since I’ve been manager.
“He’s a focal point of the team. I think we sometimes get criticised for going long to him too often, but over the last few games we’ve mixed our play up.
“That’s all you have to do and all I’ve ever wanted. At times you’ve got to hit him because he’s effective from crosses and diagonal balls into him, but you can’t do that all game.”
With Crewe Alexandra next on the agenda for the Valiants, Aspin is looking forward to the ‘A500 derby’ and he is demanding that the standard of performance stays high despite the added pressure.
Over 2,000 Vale supporters are set to make the trip to Gresty Road, and with that in mind, the gaffer is hoping that they will be travelling home with a positive result to cheer about.
“Local derbies are always important games and it’s nice to have a result going into it, but they’re always different fixtures altogether and you know the atmosphere will be ramped up,” he said.
“I always think that players have to roll up their sleeves and handle the occasions when they’re derbies, but the main thing is that they go and give 100 per cent because there will be a lot of fans there demanding that.”