Port Vale picked up their third win of the season at home to Plymouth Argyle yesterday, with Nathan Smith the unlikely scorer of the winner.
Despite not being known for his goal scoring capabilities, the defender got his second goal of the season, heading home at the back post with 15 minutes left to play, and Smudge hopes he can keep getting on the score sheet.
The first-half looked as though it really wasn’t Vale’s day, with the gaffer forced to make three changes due to injury inside the first 30 minutes, with Amoo, Conlon and Evans all going off, but the Valiants were able to keep on the front foot, creating 15 efforts on goal across the 90.
Smith largely credited the team’s ability to battle against the odds to their high level of fitness that was worked on heavily over pre-season by Askey, with the Scotland trip helping to prepare the team.
He said: “To get another goal makes me really happy, over the last few years I’ve struggled to score and I’ve been criticised for that but to get another goal and to get it when it means three points means a lot.
“To make all three subs in the first-half was very unusual and sometimes backfires and you tire towards the end because you haven’t got any fresh legs to come on, but I think that goes to show how fit we are.
“It’s credit to the lads to keep going and I think it was probably Plymouth who were tiring more towards the end and if we do that every week we’ll come away with a lot more wins than loses.”
A key aspect of the game was that Vale were able to pick up their first home clean-sheet in the league this campaign, an achievement for a defence that has been performing well so far, only conceding more than one goal in a game on a single occasion this season.
To have achieved that clean-sheet will have done the whole team’s confidence a lot of good as their hard work in a gruelling game paid off with three points.
John Askey has kept his faith in the same back line since the start of the season and they have rewarded him with yesterday’s display, and Smith believes that the team will carry that momentum into Tuesday’s away trip to Exeter City.
Although Exeter will be another tough test for the Valiants, Smith said how results like yesterday give the team a no fear attitude when taking on any side in the league, and that they should be feared themselves.
He said: “To keep conceding the single goals is not good enough as a back four and we knew that, and to get our first home clean-sheet and for it to come in such a way that we get three points, it meant a lot.
“It gives us a lot of confidence going into Tuesday’s game, and for the gaffer to keep confidence in the back four, knowing we haven’t kept as many clean-sheets as we’d have liked just keeps us pushing on.
“I think going in as an underdog only benefits us, because if people underestimate us we’ll go there and we’ll put on a show and get three points.”