Who knows how long the Danny Pugh era will last, but it started brightly as Vale overcame a lacklustre Grimsby Town 3-0 at a sub-zero Vale Park. Goals from Shaun Brisley, Devante Rodney and an own goal from Luke Waterfall gave Vale the three points and the Caretaker Manager the perfect start to his tenure.
Despite the expected “New Manager” bounce it was the Mariners that started the game brightly, Elliott Hewitt doing well down the Grimsby right, flashing a ball across the six-yard box, but no one was there to get a touch for the visitors. Two minutes later the visitors were awarded a free kick around the inside channel right channel, on the edge of the box. Matty Pollock won his header at the back post, crashing the ball against the bar, but Vale were just as thankful for the miss, to the Linesman as he flagged for offside.
But on Seven minutes it was Vale that took the lead, great work down the right allowing a cross from Worrall, the keeper scrambling back across goal and the defence were forced to concede a Corner. Worrall took the corner, but it’s cleared at the front post. Hurst does brilliantly, not only to hold his man off, but he also sent Worrall free down the left wing. The Winger sending a high cross to the back post, Hewitt stumbling into his own defensive teammate, allowing Tom Pope to head the ball down and Brisley was alive to the situation, ghosting past Waterfall to poke the ball past James McKeown to give Vale the lead.
On Ten minutes, Joyce was caught the wrong side of his man and is forced to bring him down and took a caution for his troubles. Danny Rose ran over the resulting free kick, allowing Kyle Bennett to take, Pollock again meeting the ball, planting his header past Scott Brown but again he’s yards offside and the score remains 1-0.
On Fourteen minutes, the Valiants doubled their advantage. Pope again did well with his back to goal, before turning and releasing Worrall down the right, the Winger crossing first time, this time with his right foot. Again, the Grimsby defence were at sixes and sevens, Hewitt colliding with Waterfall, as Rodney rose above Hewitt drilling his header through the hands of McKeown and into the roof of the net.
On Nineteen minutes Vale had a penalty shout turned down, Worrall winning a corner down the right. This time it was taken short into the front post, Conlon flicking the ball up, catching a Grimsby arm in the process but referee Graham Salisbury waved away the penalty appeals.
Vale continued to dominate the half, Rodney allowing the ball to run across him on the left wing and drawing the foul. Worrall took the free kick deep to the back post, but the Grimsby defence cleared on this occasion. On Thirty-Eight minutes, Pope won a free kick maybe ten yards outside the box, inside left channel. Worrall and Conlon are both interested, but it was Worrall that crossed towards to the back post. Smith getting his head to it, but it’s gathered with ease by Keeper McKeown.
In the closing minutes of the half, Vale really should have made it 3-0, A poor mistake in the Grimsby backline allowed Pope to pass to Rodney, the striker shaped to shoot, but turned the defender before striking the ball and watching it glance wide off the right post. Moments later, Hurst did well down the left-hand side, before cutting in and picking out Montano in the Grimsby box. The left back held the ball well before rolling his defender and shooting in one movement, McKeown diving full length to his left conceding only the corner.
The Second half started at quite the frenetic pace but with no real cutting edge but it was Vale that finally put the game to bed on Sixty minutes. A fantastic pass from Burgess over the top freed Worrall down the Vale right, the winger driving into the insight right channel firing the ball towards Pope on the edge of the six-yard box. Grimsby centre back Waterfall had read the danger, sliding in front of the Vale striker, but he could only turn the ball into his own net to make it 3-0 to the Valiants.
On Sixty-Nine minutes a lovely raking pass from Worrall, now playing on the left, is flicked on by Pope in the middle of the park. The ball is picked up by Amoo, who twists and turns his defender before playing the ball across goal, but the ball is scrambled clear and the tiring Mariners survived.
The visitors might have secured a consolation goal on Seventy-Seven minutes, but Scott Brown proved his worth with a fine save, a shot coming in from the edge of the box, took a wicked deflection wrong footing the Vale keeper, but he recovered flinging himself against his momentum pushing the ball wide of the post.
Vale fans will be acutely aware that one swallow doesn’t make a summer, and truth be told Grimsby looked a poor side, but three points, three goals and a clean sheet will bolster the spirit within the camp and who knows, a good result at Sunderland on Tuesday night might just give the season the boost we all hope for.