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Neil Aspin hails 'excellent' back four after Crawley win

19 August 2018

Neil Aspin admits that Vale were fortunate at times during their narrow win over Crawley Town on Saturday afternoon, but he was pleased to get three points on the board following a difficult week in terms of results.

The away side forced Vale’s back line into action on several occasions as they searched to cancel out Luke Hannant’s first-half strike, but Harry Kewell's team were unable to find a response and they left Vale Park empty handed.

Leon Legge was drafted in at the expense of Nathan Smith and Mitchell Clark made his debut after joining on loan from Aston Villa, and the manager hailed the ‘excellent’ performance of the back four.

He said: "If you think, we still have James Gibbons learning the game at right back, and we also had a young lad making his debut at left-back. So, Leon is important with his experience. 

“We also have Connell Rawlinson alongside him who has been playing non-league football. It is not the most experienced back four, but I thought they were excellent in dealing with the threat Crawley posed.

"Mitchell only came the other day and we spent all on Friday doing shape with him playing right-back. However, Cristian Montano wasn't fit so we had to move him across to left-back. 

“I thought he acquitted himself really well. It is always difficult when you come from under 23s football, but now he has had his first game he will hopefully go from strength to strength."

“The score was the response I was looking for, not the overall performance, because I thought we were second best all throughout the second half. You would have to say that Crawley deserved to get back into the game from the possession they had.

"In the first 20 or 25 minutes we started okay and I felt we were going to go on and win the game, but I thought it disrupted us a little bit with the injury to Manny. Then, to be fair to Crawley, they pushed us back in the second half.

"They passed the ball and we needed some really good defensive performances to keep them out, so that is obviously very pleasing. We had made some mistakes in the last two games, giving goals away, but I thought the back four today did a great job."

The win means that Vale have recorded a perfect start on home soil in Sky Bet League Two, picking up six points from a possible six without conceding a goal against Cambridge United and Crawley Town.

An away defeat to Colchester United and a Carabao Cup exit against Lincoln City did provide the Valiants with some things to think about, but the manager insists that his side are capable when they perform to their maximum.

He said: "I have learned that if we all play at our best, we can get results in this league, but if we don't we will get well beaten - it is as simple as that. 

“We need to be at our maximum every game because it is a tough league. I wouldn't read too much into the Lincoln game. You would obviously like to have a run in the cup but I don't think we deserved to lose the game 4-0.

"If you didn't come to the game you are just going to look at that scoreline and think we got thrashed. I don’t think it was like that, although I do admit Lincoln were better than us on the night.

"However, in the three league games we have now had one where we have played well, one where we have not played at all, and this one where we need to be better than we were today.

"So, it has been a mixture, but if you'd have asked me before the season if would I take six points from the opening three games, of course I would have said yes." 

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