We travel down to Northampton this weekend to start our 2021/22 Sky Bet League Two campaign so it seems the perfect time to reflect on the encounters of past seasons on matchday one over the last ten years.
12th September 2020 – Port Vale 2-0 Crawley Town (Cullen 39’, 66’)
Mark Cullen almost opened the scoring on 19 minutes with a diving header which was saved before getting on the score sheet 20 minutes later. Great work by Devante Rodney on the left to get past the defence with ease and he slid the ball across to Cullen who calmy placed the ball into the corner.
Crawley had chances in the second half with Tyler Frost but Scott Brown was equal to his two efforts before the Valiants scored again.
Cullen’s second was probably the easiest goal of his career. Following David Worrall’s corner, the ball was played to Tom Conlon in acres of space inside the area who had time to curl an effort onto the far post which rebounded straight to Cullen who smashed the ball into the net from a yard out.
3rd August 2019 – Colchester United (Norris 45’) 1-1 Port Vale (Pope pen 5’)
It did not take long for the Valiants to score our first goal of the new campaign with Manny Oyeleke being fouled in the area by Tom Lapslie just five minutes into the game. Tom Pope converted from the spot to put us in front early on. Scott Brown was called into action later in the half preventing Frank Nouble and Cohen Bramall from levelling up the scores.
David Amoo nearly doubled our lead after getting his head to David Worrall’s cross which just went wide of the post. Unable to capitalise on that chance, Colchester grabbed the equaliser just before half-time with a close-range effort from Luke Norris who ran onto a pass from ex-Valiant Luke Prosser.
A much quieter second half led to some nervy moments near the end. Jevani Brown went close for United before Kane Vincent-Young almost scored an own goal but good work from Dean Gerkin kept the ball out of the net. Oyeleke was on the ball again in an attacking area but could not force the ball home as the game ended level.
4th August 2018 – Port Vale (Miller 45’+2, Pope pen 47’, 69’) 3-0 Cambridge United
Cambridge had the first chance of the game on eight minutes with Ade Azeez heading wide from a corner delivered by George Maris. He again had the opportunity to score the opener from a set piece but this time Azeez could not reach the ball as it flew past him. Ricky Miller took centre stage in the first half scoring a sensational free-kick from 20 yards on his debut for the Valiants.
Miller was also instrumental in the second half when he was tripped in the area and was awarded a penalty. Tom Pope converted the spot kick to double the advantage. Azeez continued to threaten Scott Brown in goal and was denied once more with the new man in goal clinching a clean sheet on his debut.
Pope got his second with just over 20 minutes left, heading home a Cristian Montano ball in from close range.
5th August 2017 – Crawley Town (Boldewijn 53’) 1-3 Port Vale (Tonge 9’, Kay 26’, Turner 82’)
The Valiants, having been relegated in the previous season, started the campaign against Crawley Town with debutant Michael Tonge scoring a free-kick after just nine minutes to give us the lead. Another free-kick by Tonge on 26 minutes led to a second goal with Antony Kay, another playing his first competitive game for the club, scoring after flicking the ball past the keeper at the near post.
Enzio Boldewijn almost got a goal back straight away but he had his shot saved by new number one Rob Lainton. Two new signings combined and almost stretched our lead, Marcus Harness found Cristian Montano in the area but his effort flew over the bar. Crawley halved the score line in the 53rd minute through Boldewijn after Mark Randall fed him the ball and the striker went on a great solo run before finishing it off well.
The hosts had clearly lifted their performance levels and were pushing for the equaliser. Boldewijn was unable to secure a brace as he fired wide before Dean Cox who was subbed on in the second half had a shot saved. With eight minutes left substitute Dan Turner sealed the win heading home his first Vale goal after a cross from Harness.
6th August 2016 – Bradford City 0-0 Port Vale
Bruno Ribeiro took charge of the Valiants for the first time with a number of new signings. The game was largely dominated by the home team with their best chance coming on 12 minutes with Billy Clarke having an effort tipped onto the bar by Jak Alnwick. Later in the game James Hanson failed to get on the end of two crosses in the area and Bradford continued to be wasteful with several chances also going wide.
After all the pressure our defence sustained, we almost nicked all three points at the end but Christopher Mbamba mistimed his effort right in front of goal following a cross from Paulo Tavares.
8th August 2015 – Crewe Alexandra 0-0 Port Vale
A short trip on opening day for the Valiants against neighbours Crewe Alexandra which turned out to be an uneventful afternoon. Ben Garratt was the main man for the hosts as he managed to keep a clean sheet despite the best efforts of Louis Dodds and Sam Foley who almost broke the deadlock just before half time.
The dominance continued in the second half but we were unable to take our chances to get the win as the score remained level in Crewe.
9th August 2014 – Port Vale (Pope 25’) 1-1 Walsall (Bradshaw 59’)
A Staffordshire rivalry to start the 2014/15 campaign and it was the Valiants who struck first on 25 minutes with Tom Pope scoring from close-range after reaching debutant Mark Marshall’s driven
ball in. Pope had the chance to double the lead but went just wide before new signing Michael O’Connor did the same.
Ashley Grimes went close in the second half for Walsall but Sam Johnson was equal to it. The Valiants did not take those chances and the visitors capitalised clinching an equaliser on 59 minutes. Tom Bradshaw latched on a pass from Grimes and chipped the ball over the onrushing Johnson.
3rd August 2013 – Port Vale (Loft 31’) 1-1 Brentford (Logan 27’)
The newly promoted Valiants faced Brentford at Vale Park, a team who were a penalty away from the Championship in the previous season. Their quality showed on 27 minutes with Shaleum Logan putting the Bees into the lead when he cut in onto his left foot and struck home an effort into the bottom corner.
It only took four minutes for captain Doug Loft to equalise with a strike right on the edge of the area to get our first goal back in the 3rd tier. Brentford had chances in the second half to win the game, Clayton Donaldson had a shot crash against the bar and was later denied by some great defending from Dan Jones as the game finished level.
18th August 2012 – Port Vale (Dodds 8’, Myrie-Williams pen 20’, Pope 75’) 3-0 Barnet
We got off to the perfect start in our promotion winning campaign of 2012/13 against Barnet. A stunning volley from Louis Dodds on eight minutes gave us the lead before Tom Pope was fouled by Jon Nurse in the area 12 minutes later to allow Jennison Myrie-Williams to step up and calmly place the ball into the net from the penalty spot.
Barnet struggled to make Chris Neal work during the game, Nurse came the closest to scoring but his effort went into the side-netting. Pope got the first of his 31 goals in the league as he secured the three points with a finessed effort into the far corner.
6th August 2011 – Port Vale (Richards 42’, Dodds 90’+1) 2-2 Crawley Town (Barnett 39’, McFadzean 51’)
Looking back at recent opening days, Crawley Town was an occurring opponent for the Valiants. Crawley took the lead through Tyrone Barnett, who would later join the club in 2017, as he blasted the ball into the net from just six-yards out on 39 minutes. Three minutes later Marc Richards equalised directly from a free-kick.
51 minutes played and Kyle McFadzean got the lead back for the visitors, heading in Sergio Torres’ cross. Doug Loft later hit the woodwork before John Dempster was sent off after receiving two bookings in just three minutes near the end of the game. The Valiants made use of the extra man and in the first minute of stoppage time we equalised with a half-volley from Louis Dodds to take a point from the opening fixture.
We head into this Saturday’s game at Northampton with the longest current unbeaten run on the opening day in the top four tiers of English football after extending the run to 16 games last season.
A chance to continue the streak this weekend which goes all the way back to August 2005 with a 2-1 away victory against Southend United.