It might have taken five games, but the Vale’s victory under the lights at Vale Park was all the sweeter as the result finally met the endeavour of another excellent performance. Given the high press, high energy game that Askey is trying to bring to the Club this season, it really wasn’t too much of a surprise to see Bennett replace Pope in the starting line-up, especially given his goal on Saturday away at Salford City.
It was obvious from the start that Vale were up for this game, unbeaten in the League, but facing one of early season form sides. As early as the third minute, Montano found himself with an early caution though I’m sure manager Askey would have appreciate the bite in the tackle. Vale continued to press and were rewarded on four minutes. Good work between Amoo and Worrall down the right-hand side, freeing up Gibbons, who’s cross comes across the edge of the six-yard box and Bennett couldn’t miss, diving and powering his header into the roof of the net past Wollacott in the Rovers goal.
But this cracking start was undone just two minutes later as a horror mistake between Brown and Gibbons at the back, left the ball breaking free to Mills who advanced on goal and gaves Brown no chance with a fine finish in the bottom right hand corner. This was only the start of a fine attacking half from both sides.
On ten minutes a high press from Vale reaped rewards as Conlon broke up the play thirty yards out from goal, advancing before laying off the ball to Amoo. The Winger moved forward, cutting inside his defender, firing goalward but Wollacott had his angles right and parried then caught the ball above his head. Forrest Green Rovers were not to be out done though and on sixteen minutes Brown was forced into a good save, diving to his right with a strong hand pushing the ball away from goal, Gibbons tidying up with a cushion header back to Brown in the Vale goal after Morton’s fine effort.
On nineteen, Bennett fashioned himself a chance around 25 yards out, making space centrally and shooting, but his effort took a slight deflection from Amoo, and Wollacott has everything behind it to comfortably save. Another Vale midfield found themselves in the book a few minutes later, this time Worrall picking up a silly caution for a tackle from behind despite the jeers from the Lorne Street Paddock.
But on thirty-three Vale finally made their second breakthrough, impressive work from Crooke on the left setting Montano one on one with his defender, getting to the byeline, but he cuts back onto his right foot, crosses to the back post where Amoo is unmarked, calmly brings the ball down, and fires into the net beyond the despairing dive of Keeper Wollacott. It should be three on thirty-five, Amoo running down the right, cuts in back and lays off to Conlon who fires just wide of the left upright with the goal at his mercy.
As the final minutes of the half played out Vale continued to mount pressure, forcing a couple of Worrall corners, one of which Smith was unlucky to see his goal bound header blocked on the line. With one minute of the half remaining, Worrall thought he’d double Vales lead, striding down the inside right channel towards the goal, trying a curved effort with his left foot, but it was inches to high, bouncing on the top of the bar and out for a goal kick.
Vale continued where they’d left off in the second half, winning a free kick on the edge of the Rovers box on forty-nine minutes. Conlon struck it, but it’s too low in the wall and Rovers finally clear. On fifty-seven a surging run from Crookes down the left created space, he looked inside and found Bennett in the Rovers midfield, it was a long way out but he fancied it, letting fly, but it was over the bar and the visitors breathed a sigh of relief.
On sixty minutes the visitors gained a toe hold in the game forcing a corner, hung high to the back post, Bennett doing well under pressure to head clear with Vale forcing Rovers further and further back into their own half, great team defending.
On sixty-seven, Winchester conceded a silly free kick for the visitors, thirty-five yards out but central, Conlon and Worrall amongst a bevy of players but it was Conlon again, over the wall but Wollacott had read it well and saved diving to his left, safely clutching the ball to his chest.
There were moments of danger at the other end though on on seventy-one, Brown was called on to make a great save to deny a curling effort from Morton, diving to his right and clawing the ball out for a corner, which thankfully Rovers made a mess of.
Vale were back on the front foot on seventy-two, a flash effort from Bennett just wide of the target after a good header from Amoo and on seventy-three, a golden effort was wasted as Montano broke up play on the left setting Bennett free in the area, squared to an unmarked Amoo ten yards out, but he can’t keep his effort down and he blazed into the Bycars Stand.
Vale themselves breathed a sigh of relief on seventy-five minutes, Rawson with a free kick on the edge of Vales box, left hand side, getting it over the bar but it doesn’t dip quick enough and Brown calmly watches it over the bar.
Vale though continued to press forward to put the game beyond doubt, winning a corner, Smith rises and winning his header but somehow its scrambled away again.
On eighty-four Bennett departed to a standing ovation to be replaced by Pope, but the tall striker had already done enough to guarantee the Sponsors Man of the Match for the evening.
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On ninety-three, Worrall really should have finished the evening, clean through, but he never looked confident and Keeper Wollacott stood up well to save 10 yards out.
Vale though were worthy winners on the evening, another solid performance by the pairing of Legge and Smith in the heart of the defence and Vale stride on to a tough looking trip to Cleethorpes to face the Mariners of Grimsby with nothing but positivity running through the squad.