REPORT: The Magpies steal the points at Vale Park
If Vale fans were feeling a little down before this game, then there may well be a queue for anti-depressants at doctors’ surgeries around the Burslem area on Monday morning.
Vale were sitting right at the foot of the table all on their own until Cheltenham Town conceded eight minutes from time.
As it is, it is only the Robins inferior goal difference that keeps Vale from being rock bottom of the League Two table, with both sides having just three points to their name after Vale were beaten 1-0 at home by Notts County.
Michael Brown again made changes to his starting line-up, with seven fresh faces out there to face Notts County as Vale went in search of their first home win of the season.
The game saw the return of goalkeeper Rob Lainton from injury, which was perhaps a little ironic after Vale had earned themselves a first clan sheet of the season at Oldham in midweek.
New loan signing Tom Anderson had to make do with a place on the bench, but there was a debut for Vale’s other recent addition to the squad, Harry Middleton, who took up his place in midfield.
Whilst it may not have been the swashbuckling stuff of Vale’s second half performance against Crewe in their previous home fixture, Vale played enough good football to please the home crowd.
They looked solid defensively, with debutant Harry Middleton playing his part in a defensive role which saw him helping out in front of Vale’s back four.
Michael Brown’s side played some good stuff in the opening forty-five minutes, but rarely threatened Adam Collin’s goal, though they did come within a whisker of taking the lead in the 24th minute.
The ball was played in from the left flank and David Worrall connected well from 15 yards out, but although hi shot been Collin, it crashed off the ‘keeper’s right hand upright.
In the second half Vale were twice denied the opening goal they had just about deserved, within the space of sixty seconds.
Tom Pope was through on goal, but was caught by pantomime villain, former Vale defender Dan Jones, who, despite Vale’s appeals for a spot kick, timed his tackle to perfection.
Jones was at it again moments later when Gavin Gunning’s header looked all the way a goal, only for Jones to head off the line with his ‘keeper well beaten.
Gunning was convinced the ball had crossed the line, but with no goal-line technology in the depths of EFL football, play continued.
Vale were struck a cruel blow in the 67th minute when a cross from the right caught Vale flat footed and the ball was bundled over the line by Magpies’ substitute Lewis Alexandra, who has only been on the pitch for about a minute with his first touch.
Sadly, Vale didn’t have an answer and struggled to make an impression on a resolute County defence. The home side huffed and puffed, but lacked quality where it really mattered.
Vale make the trip to the Ricoh Stadium where they take on Coventry City next weekend with fingers firmly crossed their luck is about to change – perhaps it will, but it won’t happen without a lot of hard work.
Dave Johnson – 6TR