The Valiants look to bounce back at the first opportunity as we travel down to Walsall tomorrow. Let's look back at some past encounters.
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Sky Bet League Two, Banks’s Stadium, Saturday 19th December 2020, Walsall 4-3 Port Vale
The opening 10 minutes of the encounter saw both teams look to flex their attacking muscles but neither were able to forge an effort on goal, with Nathan Smith working hard to contain the Saddlers’ powerful forward Elijah Adebayo.
Walsall’s danger man nearly proved exactly why he is just that just past the 10-minute mark, as Wes McDonald showed some great skill down the left before pulling the ball back to Adebayo, whose effort was denied by the crossbar.
The hosts displayed their attacking prowess as the game entered the 20th minute, but the Vale backline was holding firm under the pressure.
Alex Hurst had the Vale’s first attempt of the game, using skilful footwork to beat his man and find some space 25-yards from the goal, but his shot under pressure failed to hit the target.
Scott Brown’s woodwork was struck for a second time minutes later as a low Adebayo cross was sliced clear by Zak Mills and the ball looped over everyone and hit the inside of the far post before it was pounced on by Brown.
In the 24th minute Luke Joyce took on a speculative effort as Vale looked to break the deadlock, a Tom Conlon delivery from a set-piece saw the ball fall to Joyce outside the box where he chested it down before volleying wide of the mark.
Vale went close again soon after as Hurst broke down the left flank and delivered a great cross into the danger area where Devante Rodney rose highest to meet it with his head from close range but couldn’t keep his effort down.
The Saddlers again went close as the game reached the half-hour mark, McDonald cut inside and dropped Nathan Smith with a fake shot but the skipper, Leon Legge, was there to throw his body on the line and block the powerful shot.
Conlon’s set-piece delivery was causing problems for the Walsall defence, swinging a ball towards Legge at the back post who headed back across the face of goal where Scott Burgess went agonisingly to poking the ball home.
Vale maintained their pressure, with David Fitzpatrick linking up play well with teammates to find Rodney who drove forward and let fly from range, earning a corner from his deflected shot.
Vale’s pressure finally paid off in the 37th minute, as Rodney brilliantly flicked a header on towards Tom Pope who brought it down, put the ball onto his right foot before cutting onto his left, sending the last Walsall defender and slotting the ball across goal into the bottom right corner with a delicate left-footed finish.
After the goal, Vale remained on top, with Mills flying in at the back post as he tried to latch onto a dangerous cross but was inches from being able to jab the ball into Jack Rose’s net.
Just before the break Vale doubled the lead in style, Tom Conlon stood over a free-kick in that spot where he has proven so dangerous this season and emulated his success from Exeter City by curling a stunning free-kick into the top-right corner, leaving Rose with no chance of stopping it.
It could have been three at the interval as Conlon continued to wreak havoc with his set-piece delivery, again finding Legge at the back-post, who headed back across goal where Conlon picked up the loose ball and curled it back to the captain who headed just past Rose’s right-hand post.
The second-half couldn’t have started any worse for the Valiants with the hosts pulling a goal back in the 52nd minute when Jake Scrimshaw was played through on goal, before he beat Brown to the ball and pulled a goal back for the Saddlers.
Walsall were level four minutes later when a corner for the hosts was flicked on and met by Dan Scarr at the back post, who tucked the ball home from six-yards.
Vale were battling to regain their lead, the ball pinballing around the Saddlers’ box with David Amoo, Rodney, Conlon and Burgess all looking to get a shot away with each attempt being blocked before the ball was cleared.
The hosts began to command the game, sending numerous balls into the Vale box and trying to force an opening for them to take the lead for the first time in the game, but the Valiants were holding firm and keeping the rejuvenated Walsall side, which saw four changes made at the break, at bay.
The Saddlers’ attack was relentless, but Vale kept throwing their bodies on the line to stop the attempts on goal and with 15 minutes of the game remaining broke away on the counter attack, with the ball being worked to Vale’s first sub of the game, David Amoo, who sprinted down the right before cutting back and forth to find an inch of space where he squeezed the ball across the face of goal and Rodney arrived to restore the Vale lead.
John Askey’s side kept their high-press up following the goal and came close to doubling their advantage as Burgess flicked the ball to the back post in a chaotic Walsall box before the attack fizzled out.
The lead was short-lived however, as Scrimshaw got his second of the game, thundering the ball into the roof of the net from a tight angle to bring his side level once again just four minutes after conceding.
Walsall found themselves in front for the first time, just one minute after drawing level, Scarr getting his second as he headed home at the back post from a corner.
Theo Robinson nearly made an instant impact off the bench, bringing the ball down in the box and looking to get a shot away but it was blocked out for a corner.
Mills had a golden opportunity to equalise two minutes from time, when Hurst hit a sublime pass over the top which was brought down by the right-back who lashed his close-range volley high and wide of the mark.
Hurst was next to go close for the Valiants, working some space just inside the area but his low, hard driven shot was saved comfortably by Rose in the Walsall net, ensuring all three points for his side.
Port Vale: Brown, Clark, Legge, Smith (86’ Crookes), Fitzpatrick, Joyce (86’ Robinson), Burgess, Conlon, Rodney, Hurst, Pope (Amoo 61’).
Unused Subs: Visser, Brisley, Oyeleke, Whitehead.
Walsall: Rose, Norman (45’ Lavery), White, Scarr, Clarke, Kinsella, Gordon (45’ Guthrie), Bates (45’ Scrimshaw), Holden, McDonald (83’ Osadebe), Adebayo (45’ Sadler).
Sky Bet League One, Banks’s Stadium, Tuesday 25th April 2017, Walsall 0-1 Port Vale
In what was a flat and uneventful opening 20 minutes, it was the visitors who made marginally the better start with Chris Eagles firing straight at Craig MacGillivray from 25-yards and Sam Foley hitting a tame overhead kick wide.
Slowly the Saddlers began to take control with them coming a whisker away from breaking the deadlock midway through the half.
After Kouyhar had found Kieron Morris on the edge of the box, the 22-year-old looked to curl the ball into the top corner only for his effort to cannon off the crossbar.
Amadou Bakayoko then won the duel with Leonardo Fasan to win the loose ball but defender Nathan Smith was well positioned behind his keeper to clear just in front of goal line.
Suddenly it was all Walsall with Jason McCarthy hitting the byline before cutting the ball back to Morris who saw a fierce strike blocked behind by a defener.
From the resultant corner, Joe Edwards put the ball back into the danger area with James O'Connor flicking a header at goal only for a back-peddling Fasan to brilliantly tip the effort over the bar.
Walsall continued of the front foot as the clock ticked towards half-time. But it was the visitors who almost went into the interval ahead after two quick-fire chances in stoppage time.
First, Remie Street headed wide following a deep cross into the box. Then just seconds later, the ball fell kindly in the box for Turner who fired a powerful effort inches over the bar.
Vale seemed to have more eagerness about them after taking on board their half-time instructions.
But it was Walsall who created the first chance after the break with a brilliant Dobson ball sending McCarthy galloping away down the right.
He then managed to pick out Morris who entered the box only to see a low strike blocked for a corner.
An Edwards ball over the top was brilliantly taken down by Bakayoko with the striker's touch putting him through on goal.
But the forward then tried to loft the ball over the onrushing Fasan with the keeper just getting enough on the effort to tip it wide.
Suddenly the game had become open with Bakayoko sending an overhead kick wide following a McCarthy cross.
Port Vale hit back and should have taken the lead minutes later when Eagles sent in a dangerous cross which Sam Foley powerfully headed wide.
Whitney made his first change with little over 20 minutes remaining – the boss handing a first team debut to Tobias Halyes-Docherty who replaced Kouyhar.
And the scholar made an instant impact after turning on half way and going on a mazy run that saw him beat one defender before his low cross was cleared.
Vale started to have a spell of possession in and around the Saddlers box.
In a frantic spell which began in the 84th minute and saw the visitors create two good chances – the second of which they took.
First Billy Reeves looked destined to put Vale ahead when the ball broke kindly for him in the box only for Roberts to spectacularly fling himself in front of the effort to block.
Seconds later though the Valiants did grab a winner with a moment of magic from Eagles.
After a cross into the box was cleared, the former Burnley man collected the ball on the edge of the box before rifling an unstoppable strike into the top corner and out of the reach of MacGillivary.
Vale defended excellently which that saw them over the line for a deserved win.
Walsall MacGillivray, O'Connor, Preston, Roberts, McCarthy, Edwards, Chambers, Dobson, Kouhyar (Hayles-Docherty 68), Bakayoko (Candlin 83), Morris.
Subs not used: Ganley, Kinsella, Sangha, Makris, Vann.
Port Vale Fasan, Streete, Taylor, Foley, Pugh, Thomas (Kelly 70), Turner (Hooper 64), Tanser, Smith, Reeves, Eagles (Bikey 87).
Subs not used: Mehmet, Kiko, de Freitas, Shalaj.