Port Vale named 11 changes for last night’s Leasing.com group game against the Newcastle United Under-21’s and assistant manager Dave Kevan was “delighted” with how well they performed.
The squad depth was key for manager John Askey in the summer and last night it was put to the test, with great success as the Vale were able to secure a 2-1 win to top the group and advance to the next round of the competition unbeaten.
One of the people given a start was striker Mark Cullen, and the Geordie born forward rewarded the trust with two goals to win Vale the match, putting pressure on the likes of Richie Bennett and Tom Pope.
Goalkeeper Jonny Maddison was also given an opportunity, and marked his debut for the club with a number of brilliant saves, including a one on one effort on the stroke of half-time.
Kevan heaped praise onto the goalscorer and shot-stopper, along with all their teammates, stating how so many players are working hard to fight for a place in the starting line-up
He said: “Delighted to win the game, delighted to get some minutes into some of the boys who have obviously needed it, it’s not easy to make 11 changes and to get that fluency and that quality that you’d like but the lads went about it properly.
“We’re delighted that Mark [Cullen] got the two goals and very pleased with his performance, he’s been a little bit unfortunate that he hasn’t had more game time but we know what Mark’s capable of and we always felt Mark would get goals for us… it lets them know, the Bennet’s and the Pope’s that Cullen’s breathing down their neck.
“Jonny’s [Maddison] done really well and he can be delighted with how he’s played, whenever he was called on tonight, whether it be his save, his handling or his distribution, he’s done everything right so very pleased with him.
“We’re delighted that we’re in a position that allows us to do that [make 11 changes], the boys that played on Saturday put in a hell of a lot of effort, a lot of work, to get the opportunity to rest them and put 11 fresh bodies out there was very pleasing.”
Another player that will be desperate to regain their spot in the starting 11 is Tom Conlon who returned to action last night, playing 60 minutes, his first football since suffering an injury against Plymouth Argyle in September.
Kevan expressed how good it is to have Conlon back with the squad, especially with the number of games the team have to play, with the league, FA Cup and Leasing.com Trophy all filling the calendar.
With that large number of games Kevan admitted the importance being able to rest players in order for them to regain their fitness and prevent injuries.
With that in mind, Kevan believes that last night’s rotation will help the team as they prepare for Saturday when they welcome Carlisle United to Vale Park, and seek to make it nine games unbeaten at home and continue to climb the table.
He said: “I’m sure Tom [Conlon] will be delighted to have got an hour under his belt there this evening, we’re delighted that he’s back in and around the group, training.
“Obviously he’s [Conlon] got some game time there and he can be very pleased with how he’s gone about his football tonight, he’s a big player for us Tom, he’s important to us and we’re just delighted that he looks like he’s back on his way to full fitness.
“That’s the aim [keep climbing the table], it’s back to the bread and butter if you like, of league football, thankfully we’re at home which has been good for us over the season so far, so we’ll be back to it tomorrow, we’ll see how everyone is and we’ll start preparing for Carlisle on Saturday.”