Match report: Vale v Crewe Alex
Vale’s recent run of results continued with a fourth consecutive defeat in all competitions when they fell to a 30th minute close range header scored by Chris Dagnall.
Vale had matched the visitors up to that point, with the goal coming against the run of play, but their task was made more difficult when they were reduced to ten men in the 34th minute when Michael Tonge was shown a straight red.
Michael Brown made three changes to his starting line-up to face local rivals Crewe Alexandra in what was a big game for his side, regardless of the opponents.
Lawrie Wilson dropped to the bench, giving Joe Davies an opportunity against a club with whom he has had lose family ties, with his father being a former manager and his brother, Harry, a player.
David Worrall, who joined the Valiants a couple of days earlier after being released by Millwall started in midfield, with Billy Reeves missing out, while Jack Stobbs replaced Dan Turner for his first start in Vale colours.
Crewe’s first attack saw the Vale defence at sixes and sevens, culminating in an angled drive from Alex full back Zoumana Bakayogo which brushed the Vale crossbar.
Six minutes later Chris Porter was allowed a free header, but thankfully, from a Vale perspective, he didn’t manage to hit the target, but it highlighted the need to stay concentrated at the back.
Vale continued to look a little nervous at the back against an Alex side who were not afraid to take the direct option when it suited them, and who can blame them given that Vale have been a bit vulnerable in recent games.
To their credit, Vale began to have the better of open play, but they were unlocked on the half hour when Chris Dagnall darted into the box to meet a cross from the left, directing his close-range header past Sam Hornby to open the scoring.
Four minute later things got worse for the home side when they were reduced to ten men. Michael Tonge lost control of the ball on the halfway and stuck a foot out in desperation. The referee deemed it was worthy of a red and he was forced to leave the field of play.
Michael Brown made a change at the commencement of the second half with the introduction of Rekeil Pyke for Jack Stobbs.
Vale began the second half on the front foot, with Pyke looking particularly sharp, and the home side were twice denied an equaliser within a few seconds when Tome Pope and then Marcus Harness each had efforts hacked off the line.
It was enough to lift the home supporters, who sensed a Vale comeback despite being outnumbered, with Vale giving everything for the collective shirt.
That the tables had turned was there for all to see, and Vale fans waited with baited breath to see whether the ten men could keep up the pressure.
Of course, it was always going to be too much to ask of Michael Brown’s men and Vale had Hornby to thank for keeping the score at 0-1 when he moved to his right to keep out a fierce 30 yard drive from Ryan Wintle.
Hornby again saved his side from further embarrassment when he reacted sharply to push a point-blank header from Chris Porter over his crossbar.
David Artell’s side were content to play the game out, keeping possession to frustrate the home side and they made the short trip back over the Staffordshire-Cheshire border with all three points under their belts.
Dave Johnson – 6TR