The perfect start for Danny Pugh in caretaker charge as Vale put three past Grimsby and pick up a clean sheet to begin 2021 at Vale Park in style.
Danny Pugh would have liked a fast start in his first game in charge but it was the visitors who started the better in the opening exchanges. A free kick on the edge of the area was whipped in to the box which was attacked by Matthew Pollock and headed onto the post only to be flagged offside.
Vale were looking to achieve victory in their first home game of 2021, Alex Hurst causing problems for Grimsby’s back four in the first five minutes, almost getting onto a loose ball before James McKeown came out and claimed. Worrall started brightly down the right, in his first start since his brief spell out with injury, putting a looping ball into the area which McKeown swatted out for a corner. That corner was crossed into the area and found the head of Pope who prodded it towards goal before Brisley put the ball over the line from close range to give Vale the lead with eight minutes played.
The Valiants looked on course to bounce back from their disappointing result against Mansfield last weekend but Grimsby looked for an instant reply on 12 minutes. Joyce was adjudged to have brought down his man on a Mariners counter attack which got him a booking from referee Graham Salisbury.
Pollock again won the header from the free kick and put it past Scott Brown into the bottom corner but was in an offside position once more. Grimsby had a few half chances after the foul trying for an equaliser, Kyle Bennett tried his luck from outside the box but was blocked brilliantly by the first goal scorer Brisley.
Vale hadn’t beaten Grimsby since December 2009 before today and were in firm control of the game even before they doubled their lead on 15 minutes. A penalty shout for Vale in the build up as Devante Rodney was barged over in the area but Graham Salisbury wasn’t moved. The visitors cleared the loose ball, giving possession back to Vale who played it out to Worrall on the right who sent the ball back into the box where Rodney was waiting to power the header past McKeown to give Vale some breathing room.
Grimsby were having to feed off scraps for a breakthrough due to excellent defensive work from the entirety of Port Vale’s back four. Kyle Bennett looked lively but had a second shot blocked on 21 minutes by Zak Mills and a minute later Filipe Morias had his effort comfortably saved by Scott Brown.
Grimsby hadn’t taken any points away from home since the 24th of November and Vale pushed for a third before half time to help continue the visitor’s poor run. Worrall played another ball into the area to Pope who headed it into the arms of McKeown. That was followed by Devante Rodney hitting the post and a brilliant solo effort from Montano whose shot was destined for the net before McKeown, once more, produced a world class save.
A quiet 15 minutes to open up the second half, which is what Danny Pugh would have wanted. That was until the hour mark where half time substitute Scott Burgess picked up the ball in the centre circle and played a beautiful ball on the turn out to Worrall on the right wing who beat the offside trap and tried to slide it into Pope in the middle but Grimsby defender Luke Waterfall intercepted the pass. Fortunately for the Valiants his block resulted in the ball going into his own net to make it 3-0.
Grimsby were still looking for a consolation in the late stages of the game, Kyle Bennet again looking dangerous. His shot outside the area on 78 minutes, took a huge deflection on its way through to goal but Scott Brown who had nothing to do all game up until this point used all of his strength to jump across to the opposite side of his goal to make a wonderful save and push the ball round the post. Gibson on 84’ had a shot which fizzed back the post, which was the closest Grimsby came all night to scoring. A big boost for the Valiants before the long trip to the Stadium of Light on Tuesday night to face Sunderland in the Papa John’s Trophy.
Port Vale: Brown, Mills, Smith, Brisley, Montano, Conlon, Joyce, Hurst (61’ Amoo), Worrall (81’ Whitehead), Rodney (45’ Burgess), Pope (80’ Robinson)
Subs not used: Visser, Cullen, Campell-Gordon
Grimsby Town: McKeown, Hendrie, Preston (45’ Habergham), Hewitt, Rose, Bennett, Morias (74’ Wright), Green (66’ Gibson), Clifton (45’ Williams), Waterfall, Pollock
Subs not used: Russel, Spokes, Jackson Jr