Match Report: Port Vale 1 Barnet 0
Whilst visitors Barnet must be given credit for giving their new manager everything it was Vale who came away with the three points after a hard-fought game at Vale Park.
Vale picked themselves up after struggling to get a first half goal, going on to show an improved second half performance which deserved a goal.
They had to wait until the 80th minute before finally getting their just rewards, when Tom Pope – who else? – smashed the ball home from the spot after James Gibbons went down inside the box.
As expected, Anton Forrester forced his way into the manager’s thoughts and found himself in the starting line-up to face Barnet in a basement battle on a cold afternoon at Vale Park.
Vale looked extremely comfortable on the ball in the opening minutes ad refused to let the visitors dwell in things when they were in possession.
Tom Pope twice went close to opening the scoring for the Valiants and perhaps will have been expected to do better with his second chance after digging the ball out from under his feet to shoot, only for James Stephens in the Barnet goal to make the save.
The visitors were not afraid to assert themselves in a physical sense and Vale knew they were in for a battle whenever they approached Stephens’ goal, often wrested off the ball, just about within the rules of the game.
The referee finally ran out of patience in the 21st minute when he took the name of Andre Blackman – the only surprise being that it had taken so long for the man in the middle to take such action.
The game had turned into a scrappy affair with neither side managing to impress too much on the ball, and that was down to neither side being given any time to do so.
Vale went close to breaking the deadlock within the opening two minutes of the restart when an angled free kick taken by Marcus Harness flashed over the visitors’ crossbar.
A determined run by James Gibbons saw the Vale defender play the ball into the box for Tom Pope, who in turn helped the ball on to strike partner Forrester, but he was foiled by a terrific reflex save from Stephens.
At that stage Vale were certainly in the ascendency and playing the better football of the two, but they were still lacking a certain something in front of goal.
Stephens did well to push a shot from Harness around his upright as Vale threatened once again, with the home side looking the more likely of the two to find an opening.
Despite Vale’s second half dominance, they were indebted to goalkeeper Ryan Boot in the 76th minute when he cam off his line to block an effort from Bees’ substitute Simeon Akinola.
How important that save was became obvious just minutes later when Gibbons was felled inside the Barnet Box and Tom Pope crashed home the resulting spot kick to finally put Vale in front.
Dave Johnson – 6TR
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