Finishing Costs Valiants The Spoils

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Despite a dominant performance from the Valiants, Vale were forced to settle for a share of the points as Luke Norris equalised Devante Rodney’s early Second Half effort.

Vale were forced into a single change to the starting line up as 21 year old Alex Hurst made his full League debut replacing the injured Cristian Montano who was ruled out due to a thigh issue.

The Visitors made a bright start, winning the first corner as Legge was forced to head over his own bar after good work down the Colchester left. A clearing header from the corner by Tom Conlon dropped to Colchester’s Noah Chilvers whose effort was just wide of the left upright. Four minutes later, a short corner routine to Kwame Poku allowed him to cross but is deflected and keeper Scott Brown tidied up well on his front post.

Vale’s first real threat came on eight minutes, Worrall doing well down the right, driving a low cross into the box, the ball being held up well by Rodney who laid it off to Hurst who shot first time, but it curved wide of the right-hand post. Two minutes later, Vale won their first corner, Worrall sending it over from the attacking right. Played short, before the ball found its way back to Worrall, the winger put it high into the box, Nathan Smith challenging, but the ball drops to safely and is cleared by the Colchester defence.

On twelve minutes Vale allowed their best chance of the game to slip through their fingers. Conlon sending over an early cross from the left, beating everyone in the centre of goal but Worrall was at the back post and just failed to get anything on it to poke it past Dean Gerken. Two minutes late Vale were knocking at the door again, a direct free kick from the right-hand side of the box. Conlon took with his left foot, an excellent strike over the Colchester wall, but Gerken had read it well diving to his left to push the ball away.

Just minutes later Gerken came to the rescue for the visitors again. Worrall sending over a cross from the edge of the Penalty area, headed clear but the ball dropped to Manny Oyeleke on the volley, a sweet strike, but Gerken again dived to his left, to keep the score line 0-0.

On the half-hour, Zac Mills did well to stand up to a rare Colchester attack, only conceding a corner with Jevani Brown looking dangerous. Played short, the ball is finally crossed deep towards Norris but its over the striker and Rodney does well to snuff out any danger in the inside right channel.

Vale continued their great work moments later as Conlon freed Hurst down the left, a deep cross finding Worrall, but his header drifted wide of the left post. Two minutes later, Conlon might have done better, Fitzpatrick taking a quick throw down the right, getting it back before hanging up an early cross. Conlon did well, coming round the back of the Colchester defence, getting above the right back, but his header lacked direction and flew into the Hamil Road Stand.

The Vale started the Second Half where they left off the first, and were very unlucky not to be in front. Good play in the Midfield allowed Manny Oyeleke to drive through the Colchester defence before he’s dragged back, the ball breaking to Rodney who fired into the bottom left hand corner but not before he’s flagged offside, though many would question the lack of penalty for the foul on Oyeleke in the build-up.

Vale continued to dominate the half, Oyeleke winning a corner, taken towards front post, but Smith’s header is deflected wide. A further Vale Corner from the left flank, taken short, the ball fell to Fitzpatrick whose shot was deflected for a further corner but was finally cleared by the defence.

But as the game moved to the hour mark, Vale finally made the breakthrough. Fitzpatrick strode down the left finding Rodney in acres of space in the Colchester midfielder. The Striker made his way forward to the edge of the box, turned, and drilled the ball into the bottom left-hand corner giving Gerken no chance in the Colchester goal.

This clearly jolted the visitors into life, and they reacted almost immediately with a triple substitution, Poku off for Courtney Senior, Brown off for Michael Folivi and Chilvers off for Luke Gambin. This clearly gave the visitors a lift and on sixty-six minutes that grabbed an equalising goal from nothing. A long ball from Ben Stevenson over a square Vale defence found Norris in the inside left channel, he advanced on goal, firing across Brown and into the bottom right-hand corner.

As Vale searched for a winner in the last fifteen minutes, they made their own attacking changes, McKirdy coming on for a struggling David Worrall and Tom Pope entering the fray at the expense of Luke Joyce.

Vale continued to attack as the half wound down but were indebted to their own goalkeeper for a point as Brown made a fine double save in the ninety-second minute to deny the visitors stealing an unlikely win.