Port Vale's unbeaten run was brought to an end at Grimsby, in the final away game of our 2020/21 season.
It was a bright start for the Valiants on the North East Lincolnshire coast against a side whose relegation fate in Sky Bet League Two had already been sealed on Tuesday night.
Vale’s first real effort on goal came in the 12th minute, with a smart touch and pass from Rodney allowing Joyce to play Whitehead into space. Our No. 18 tried his luck from 20-yards out with a low driven effort, the ball going narrowly wide of Eastwood’s post.
Clifton had the first chance of the afternoon for the hosts from the edge of the 18-yard box, with Brown positioned well for the effort to make a routine catch.
It was just after the half hour mark when Manager Darrell Clarke urged goalkeeper Scott Brown to push his side up the pitch, with Worrall picking up the second ball and fashioning another opportunity. Wozza’s pass out to Rodney was delivered into a dangerous area and cleared to Whitehead, who couldn’t quite adjust his feet and fired wide.
However immediately after that chance, an undercooked Joyce backpass to Brown was latched onto by Green, who calmly slotted into the bottom right corner to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead inside 32 minutes.
As Vale entered the final five minutes of the first half, the players collectively started to reduce the frenetic pace with which the game was being played, producing a series of patient passing sequences. This culminated with an opportunity for Rodney to head towards goal, not connecting as he would have desired.
Moments later a superb piece of close control on the edge of the penalty area from Montano set himself for an effort on the half volley, requiring Eastwood to produce a decent stop before Robinson fired over from close range before being flagged for offside.
Goalscorer Green was the first name to be taken into the referee’s book, as he was cautioned for a trailing arm which left Legge requiring attention from the Physio for a second time in the match.
The half was then brought to a close with Vale trailing by one, despite often looking the more threatening in front of goal.
No changes at the interval and it was Vale who started the second period with a golden opportunity.
Worrall won the ball on the halfway line with Grimsby pushing forward in numbers, running half the length of the pitch before trying to dink Eastwood, who denied an equaliser with an outstretched arm.
Legge’s name was the next to be taken by the referee, as he received a yellow card for body checking Green, who himself had been cautioned for an earlier foul in the same player combination.
The hosts were forced into a change of goalkeepers following a coming together between Eastwood and Rodney, the experienced McKeown his replacement.
A triple change for the Valiants with 25 minutes left to play, as Mckirdy, Pope and Amoo replaced Whitehead, Robinson and Legge with a change of shape to follow.
The switch almost brought about an instant response, with Pope fouled moments after entering the pitch. The delivery from Conlon finding Brisley in space at the back post, as he was just unable to direct the header on target.
An excellent delivery from Worrall found Pope who nodded down to Conlon, with his effort on the half volley denied by a quality save from substitute McKeown on his first real call to action.
Next it was Conlon to deliver, as an onrushing Smith met the ball with a powerful header, only to see his effort cleared off the line.
Into the final 10 minutes and a quickfire shot from Rodney caught the Grimsby defence by surprise, hitting the inside of the post with a Vale player unable to meet the second ball.
A leaping header from Pope followed immediately after, denied by yet another excellent McKeown stop as Vale mounted attack after attack.
Montano was awarded the next yellow, before receiving what looked to be an extremely harsh second booking from referee Will Finnie as he was given his marching orders.
The hosts then used their extra man advantage to close out the victory in our final away game of the 2020/21 season.
Port Vale: Brown, Smith, Legge (Amoo, 67’), Brisley, Montano (RED CARD), Joyce (Swan, 85’), Conlon (C), Whitehead (McKirdy, 67’), Worrall, Robinson (Pope, 67’) , Rodney.
Unused subs: Guthrie, Olagunju, Burgess
Grimsby: Eastwood (McKeown, 59’), Hendrie, Menayese, Hewitt, Habergham (Pollock, 73’), Coke (C), Clifton, Jackson Jnr, Khouri, Green (John-Lewis, 56’), Scannell (Spokes, 73’)
Unused subs: Adlard, Waterfall, Lamy