There’s no doubt that the sad loss of former Vale stalwart Lee Collins sent shock waves through Vale Park earlier this week, the former defender representing the Valiants on 160 occasions. Vale marked Lee’s passing with a minutes silence and a performance that the Centre / Left Back would have been proud of as they extended their winning run to four on the bounce, the first time Vale had won four consecutive league games since 2015.
It was Vale that made the perfect start, Theo Robinson capitalising on an Alex Hartridge error, releasing Devante Rodney into the Exeter defensive third, Rodney looked to shoot but slid the ball to Dave Worrall who struck the ball first time, Jokull Andresson making a smart save with his feet, but he only pushed it out to Robinson who slammed the ball into the open net and Vale led.
Minutes later Vale broke again through Christian Montano, who sent a raking ball across the midfield to Worrall. The winger made his way forward before sending a ball into the box. Robinson challenged for the ball but couldn’t get a touch, but the ball broke back to Montano who shot first time but his effort flew wide of the left upright.
On Seven Minutes Vale Park claimed yet another injury, this time it was Leigh Doughty, today’s referee who was forced to make way due to an injury.
Vale continued on the front foot, winning a corner after the visitors were forced to clear a Worrall cross. Tom Conlon took the corner but the Exeter defence stood firm and the visitors cleared their lines. Seventeen Minutes had passed when Rodney did well on the half way line, winning the ball and advancing into the Exeter half, jinking past a defender before unleashing a scorching effort on goal which Andresson did well to tip over the bar. Conlon again provided the corner from the right, but it was over hit and sailed over the byline for a goal kick.
On Twenty-Four Minutes Montano won a free kick thirty yards out in the inside left channel. Conlon elected to take it, hanging it up towards the back post but it ran through the back of the box, retrieved by Worrall who chipped the ball back into the mix but Andresson claimed the ball under pressure from Leon Legge.
It took the Visitors until the Twenty-Fifth Minute to register their first offensive action, a Corner for the visitors as Montano was forced to concede under pressure. Left Back Jack Sparkes sent the ball over, but it was met at the front post by Shaun Brisley and Vale countered, trying to hit Exeter on the break.
On the Half Hour, Matt Taylor had seen enough of the Vale bombardment making his first change, Lewis Page departing for Pierce Sweeney to come on, Page clearly not happy ignoring the Managers over of a hand shake on leaving the field.
The change though sparked the visitors into life, Nathan Smith incepting a dangerous cross but conceding the corner. Parkes sent over the ball over but first Montano and then Legge, defended well and Vale cleared through Worrall.
Despite the visitors finally establishing a foot hold in the game, it was the Valiants that had the final chance of the half, breaking through Robinson, the attacker doing well to feed Manny Oyeleke and Rodney in turn, whose shot was firm but always rising over the bar.
Vale started the second half brightly and Three Minutes in, Rodney picked up the ball down the left getting to the byline, surging past his defender and driving the ball towards goal, Andresson doing well though on the front post, deflecting the ball out for a corner. Conlon sent the ball into the box but the Grecian defence stood firm, scrambling it away.
Exeter won their first corner of the half on Fifty-Six Minutes, taken short, before its fed into the box but Vale are hustling well and force the mistake allowing them to break down the left.
Vale think they’ve doubled their lead on Sixty-One Minutes, Conlon with a perfectly weighted ball to find Rodney who calmly puts the ball in the bottom right hand corner sending Andresson the wrong way celebrating a calm finish only to see the Assistant referee’s flag held high and it remained 1-0.
Vale continued to advance winning a corner down the right. Conlon strolled over to take it, placing the ball high above the six yard box,. Andresson flapping at this one, the first time he’d looked a little unsteady, but the referee blows for a free kick and it remains 1-0.
Vale looked to continue their control of the game, moving down the right through Conlon who laid the ball back to Rodney who picked his spot and fired his effort to the top right corner but Andresson did brilliantly to tip it over the bar and keep the visitors in it.
As the game drew to a close it was Vale still forcing the action, nearly making it two after a throw from Worrall is controlled by substitute Kurtis Guthrie, turning his defender and headed towards goal along the byline before shooting, again Andresson doing well on his front post to only concede the corner.