Match Report: Port Vale 0 Swindon Town 3
Vale’s recent revival came to a shuddering halt when they fell to a 3-0 home defeat to Swindon Town and to be honest they never looked like getting much out of the game.
The effort was there once again, but the visitors had just a bit too much for Neil Aspin’s side and added another three points to their already impressive record on their travels.
There was a surprise in the Vale starting line-up with a new emergency-loan goalkeeper being brought in after Kelle Roos picked up an injury in training.
Neil Aspin managed to get a replacement in Dimitar Evtimov, who was thrust straight into the action against Swindon Town after being recruited from Nottingham Forest.
The 24-year-old keeper’s previous league experience came when on loan with Mansfield Town during the 2014-15 season, when he started ten games for the Stags, plus an appearance in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
Whilst the blustery conditions were hardly conducive to flowing football, Vale settled down fairly quickly, yet it was easy to see why the visitors had the second best away record in League Two going into the game.
Their brand of football meant that Vale needed to be on their toes from a defensive point of view, with the visitors looking to get bodies forward, in and behind the Vale back four.
Former Vale skipper Ben Purkiss was looking to make his presence felt too, getting up in support when his side were pressing Vale back into their own half.
Whether or not is was down to conditions is difficult to say, but neither side was ripping up trees and neither ‘keeper had a lot to do during the opening forty-five minutes of the game.
It was a first half with very few – if any – clear-cut chances and as the half was played it out you got the feeling the match would be decided one way or another by a defensive error.
The visitors began the second period on the front foot, forcing Vale to defend deep into their own half and the visitors took full advantage when they took the lead in the 51st minute.
To their credit, Vale were scrapping for every ball, unfortunately giving away a free kick in a dangerous position, just outside the penalty area when Cristian Montano misjudged a tackle.
The visitors made Vale pay when the resulting free kick was lined up by Matt Taylor, and the Swindon man made no mistake, beating Evtimov with a superbly taken goal to put his side ahead.
Vale made their first change just moments later when Montano was taken off with Tyrone Barnett came off the bench in a change of formation for the home side.
Vale certainly perked up after that, pushing forward with the belief they could get themselves back on level terms and they went close when a powerful drive from Harness was held at the second attempt by Robins’ ‘keeper Reice Charles-Cook.
But it was the visitors who got the all-important second goal of the game when, it the 73rd minute, Vale ‘keeper Evtimov made a monumental error.
He came off his line to collect a cross, hesitated, then back pedalled, allowing Swindon substitute Paul Mullen to nip in and head home his side’s second goal.
The Vale Park faithful began to drift out of the stadium, realising a Vale comeback was not about to happen when Swindon added a third goal in the 85th minute.
The home side were opened up a bit too easily for comfort and with just Evtimov to beat, Harry Smith drew the ‘keeper before playing the ball square to Kellan Gordan, who had the simple task of slotting the ball home from close range.
Dave Johnson – 6TR
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