REPORT: Vale v Luton
Vale’s superb recent run of form continued with a well-deserved victory over Luton Town as Vale racked up another three points to give them an impressive total of 13 from their last five games.
Vale never let the visitors settle, with an animated display right from kick off and it came as no surprise when Vale took the lead midway through the first half, when Luton defender Dan Potts turned touched the ball past his own ‘keeper.
Further Vale goals in the second half when Ben Whitfield set up Tom Pope in the 60th minute and ten minutes later when Pope returned the favour for Whitfield to capitalise, but Vale well in the driving seat,
Pope then struck with his second goal in the 82nd minute, showing great determination to force the ball over the line, sending some visiting supporters for the exits.
Neil Aspin made one change for the visit of league leaders Luton Town in Vale’s final home fixture of the year, with Cristian Montano coming in for Tyrone Barnett.
Both Tom Anderson and David Worrall had recovered sufficiently to be named in the squad, but each of them had to make do with a place on the Vale bench.
Th Valiants were presented with a great opportunity to take an early lead when the ball fell to defender Nathan Smith in front of the Luton goal.
Smith elected to hit the ball early as it dropped over his shoulder and unfortunately failed to hit the target, with Hatters’ ‘keeper Marek Stech breathing a sigh of relief.
It was a let off for the visitors and Vale continued to cause problems, driving forward , showing their attacking intentions right from the off.
The visitors didn’t mount a serious attack until midway through the first half when they looked like they might take advantage of a scramble in the Vale box, but a last gasp tackle from Nathan Smith kept them out.
A minute later Vale got their rewards for their attacking approach to the game when Ben Whitfield surged to the byeline before putting the ball in the danger area and the ball crossed the line following a touch from Luton defender Dan Potts.
Stech pulled off a superb save to keep out a stinging drive from outside the box by Montano in the 33rd minute as Vale continued to all but pin Luton deep inside their own half.
Vale almost added to their lead just before the interval when Tonge played a slide rule pass through for Montano, whose cross to the far post was met by a firm header from Tom Pope, but the ball flashed wide of the upright.
Pope had proved a handful for the Luton defence with his never-say-die attitude and his willingness to use his strength in a physical battle, one in which he sometimes came worse off, yet he persevered all the same.
Vale were forced into making a change in the 57th minute when the injured Gavin Gunning was replaced by Tom Anderson.
Vale were having to soak up the pressure as Luton threw everything forward in search of an equaliser, but in doing so they were leaving themselves open to a counter attack.
That is exactly what happened on the hour when Ben Whitfield nicked the ball in the centre of the park and raced for goal. Spotting Pope unmarked to his left, he played the ball in and the Vale skipper finished in style to make it 2-0.
Luton had the ball in the net in the 67th minute but the referee’s assistant had spotted an offside and Vale retained their two-goal advantage.
Two minutes later Vale got their third when a stray ball was picked up by Tom Pope and n a reversal of roles, he pulled it back for Ben Whitfield to finish from close range.
In the 82nd minute Vale extended their lead with a fourth goal when Tom Pope nodded home from close range at the second attempt to send the Vale fans home happy.
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