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Tom Pope reflects on Stevenage defeat

20 April 2019


Tom Pope reflects on Stevenage defeat

20 April 2019

Tom Pope admits that Port Vale must perform much better if they are to pick up any more points in Sky Bet League Two this season, but he was left angered by Stevenage's tactics following the 4-1 home defeat.

Emmanuel Sonupe handed Boro an early lead with a well taken goal 11 minutes into the contest, and the Vale captain knew what to expect from that point onwards as the away side looked to frustrate John Askey's men.

As an experienced player who has played hundreds of matches in the Football League, Pope acknowledges just how important the first goal can be, and he believes that Vale were punished for not taking any of their early chances.

He said: "If there's one team I want to beat in this league it's them, but they're going to go home with smiles on their faces. 

"It's key that you get the first goal and as soon as you concede, you know what's coming. All of their players knew what was going on too - they were even saying to me that they don't like doing it, but that's what the management ask for.

"Fair play to them if they want to be a part of that, but I'd rather retire than do that. From our point of view, the lads know that we weren't great defensively for any of their goals, and we always concede at silly times.

"The first goal was vital, but then when Cristian Montano gave us that lifeline we needed to keep Stevenage down there, but we ended up helping them up to make a mockery of us in the end.

"People will look at it and say that they were comfortable winners, but that wasn't the case for large parts of the game. They had spells, but we were on top in the second half, only to shoot ourselves in the foot."

Despite the disappointing result, scores elsewhere ensured that the Valiants secured safety in Sky Bet League Two ahead of the 2019/20 campaign with three games left to play of the current season.

Easter Monday sees Pope and his teammates travel to face promotion-chasing MK Dons, and having branded them as one of the best teams Vale have come up against in the division, the striker is expecting a very difficult test.

He said: "They're going to have a lot of the ball and we're going to have to be solid to keep our shape well. They do push men forward, so hopefully with the way David Worrall has been playing over the last few months and with players like 'Monty', we could force them into mistakes and get chances.

"I'd probably feel more comfortable about going there than I would if we were playing a team like Stevenage again. People always talk about playing without pressure now we're safe, but we saw last season how it can end if you're not careful.

"We lost at home to Carlisle and then conceded five at Cambridge so it was a farce in the end, but it's up to us to keep our heads in it. Even though we're safe, there are still lads fighting for contracts and people who can change the manager's mind, so we need to go out there and make sure the fans down end the season gutted.

"It would be great to give them something to gome with over the summer so they can look forward to next season."

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