MATCH REPORT: Port Vale v Colchester United
A late goal from midfielder David Worrall saw Vale snatch an unlikely point late on in the game after trailing all through the second half up to that point.
The visitors took and early lead when Cortney Senior converted in the 2th minute, only for Worrall to net his first goal of the game in the 33rd minute.
But a mistake by debutant Zak Jules in first half stoppage time saw the visitors take full advantage when Drey Wright punished Vale to give his side a half time lead.
Although Vale pushed hard in search of an equaliser, they lacked the necessary quality until Worral’s 87th minute equaliser and Neil Aspin’s side will be grateful for the points.
Neil Aspin said during Thursday’s press conference that he would be ringing the changes following Vale’s second half collapse against Accrington Stanley in Vale’s previous game and he was true to his word.
One notable change was the return to the starting eleven for goalkeeper Rob Lainton, who regained his place at the expense of young ‘keeper Ryan Boot, who found himself on the bench.
On loan defender Zak Jules came in for his Vale debut and there was also a start for another loan player, Donovan Wilson, who started for the first time, partnering Tom Pope up front.
Cristian Montano also came back into the side at the expense of Danny Pugh, who joined Boot, Ben Whitfield and Tom Anderson on the bench as the manager made four changes.
The Vale manager had said he intended to make sure Tom Pope wasn’t as isolated up front and that was evident by not only his team selection, but by the shape Vale had adopted.
Early signs in the game showed that Vale were looking to get bodies forward, but it was at the other end where Vale looked a little disorganised and they fell behind in the 12th minute.
Vale looked at sixes and sevens as the visitors lined up, looking to get a shot in at goal and when it did come, from Vale’s right hand side, Courtney Senior’s angled shot beat Lainton in the Vale goal to give Colchester the lead.
Despite Vale’s attacking line-up, it was Colchester who were looking the most likely to get the next goal in the game, hitting Vale quickly on the break whenever the opportunity arose.
Intense pressure from the home side didn’t produce anything of note and despite much of the game being played in the visitors’ half, goalkeeper Sam Walker had little to do.
That changed in the 33rd minute, when he was picking the ball out of the net. David Worrall collected a pass on the edge of the 18 yard box, controlled before cutting inside and drilling the ball hard and low to the ‘keeper’s right.
Making his home debut, Luke Hannant caught the eye with an all-round display and his willingness to push right up top one moment and then defend deep the next.
Not one did he shirk a challenge or his responsibility and despite his ack of experience at League Two level, he certainly didn’t look out of place at any time.
Anthony Kay twice went close to giving Vale the lead as half time approached. His first effort was blocked and then just seconds later his powerful header flew just wide of the target.
Vale were finishing the half looking far the better of the two sides but in the fourth minute of stoppage time they were punished for a mistake.
Jules, on his debut, let the ball run past him, unaware of the danger lurking behind him. Sam Szmodics collected and was able to pick out team mate Drey Wright in the middle, and he duly slotted home to restore Colchester’s lead.
Vale made two changes at the beginning of the second half – Tom Anderson coming on for Anthony Kay and Anton Forrester replacing Donovan Wilson up front.
Forrester forced a decent save from Walker in the 59th minute when the keeper got down sharply at the foot of his left hand post to palm the ball around his upright.
Vale made a third change in the 64th minute when Ben Whitfield came off the bench to replace and largely ineffective Cristian Montano.
Vale continued to push but struggled to trouble a Colchester defence who seemed to be quite comfortable, while Vale were a long way from their best.
Vale continued to press but time after time were left frustrated as they were unable to pull that something special out of the bag in order to break s stubborn visitors’ defence down.
Just as it looked like time was running out, Worral was on hand to get a foot to a shot from Luke Hannant to wrong-foot the ‘keeper and level the scores.
Dave Johnson – 6TR
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