Tom Conlon’s brace from the penalty spot helped secure a 2-1 victory for Vale in our final fixture of pre-season against Rochdale.
John Askey will be pleased with the level of performance from his side against a Rochdale team who had won all of their pre-season fixtures before they faced the Valiants.
The first real shot at goal, came after ten minutes when David Fitzpatrick’s long-range strike sailed over Gavin Bazunu’s crossbar.
Shortly after, Devante Rodney’s well-hit cross was met by 2019/20 Player of the Season David Worrall at the far-post, but the wide man was unable to keep his header down.
The early chances for Vale continued as a Worrall free-kick was floated into the box, before skipper Leon Legge headed over the bar.
Rochdale’s first chance of the game came as midfielder Alex Newby tried to curl a ball into the top corner of Dino Visser’s net, only for Legge to get his head in the way and clear for a corner.
The best chance of the game to that point followed, with Visser pulling off a superb save to deny Fabio Tavares’ angled strike from inside the box, to prevent the ball flying into the top corner.
Visser was on hand again to deny Tavares in sensational style after 25 minutes, when Alex Newby’s cut-back was met by the Dale striker from six-yards out, only for Visser to lunge and tip the ball past the post.
The visitors had a golden opportunity to open the scoring with 32 minutes on the clock, after Matthew Done was able to round Visser, but Zak Mills was on hand clear the ball off the line.
With five minutes remaining until half-time, Devante Rodney’s ball into the box was just missed by Theo Robinson, who surely would have opened the scoring had he made any contact with the ball.
But Vale were not disappointed for long because with twenty seconds until half-time Devante Rodney was brought down in the box, and the referee awarded a penalty to the Valiants.
Tom Conlon stepped up and placed the ball in the bottom right-corner, with Bazunu diving in the opposite direction to give the Valiants a half-time lead.
Just ten minutes into the second-half, the Valiants were awarded another penalty after Jim McNulty was caught tugging Shaun Brisley’s shirt in the box.
Conlon stepped up to take his second penalty of the day, and produced the same result as last time, slotting the ball into the bottom-left corner to score his and the Vale’s second goal of the game.
Conlon almost made it a hat-trick two minutes later, when his sumptuous curling effort from outside the box was well tipped over by Bazunu in the Dale goal.
After 65 minutes, it was Rochdale who found themselves a way back into the game, after Kwando Baah fell over in the box under a challenge from Luke Joyce, with Aaron Morley on hand to convert the resulting penalty for the visitors, to bring the game back to 2-1.
Half-time substitute David Amoo almost made the win safe for the Valiants after 82 minutes, when his header from Worrall’s cross was superbly tipped onto the post by Jay Lynch.
With four minutes remaining, Mills was on hand to clear off the line for the second time in the game, stopping Alex Newby’s driven strike from hitting the back of the net.
And that proved to be the last major action of the game as Vale secured the victory to send them into the competitive season with confidence.
The Valiants’ next game is on Saturday 5th September, when we make the trip to Scunthorpe United in the first round of the Carabao Cup.
Port Vale: Visser, Mills, Legge (Smith 61’), Brisley, Fitzpatrick (Crookes 71’), Whitehead, Burgess (Joyce 45’), Conlon (Trickett-Smith 75’), Worrall, Rodney (Pope 61’), Robinson (Amoo 45’).
Rochdale: Bazunu (Lynch 61’), McLaughlin, McNulty, O’Connell (McShane 61’), Keohane, Ryan (Morley 61’), Lund Newby, Dooley, Done (Baah 61’), Tavares.