Despite taking the lead twice, Vale were held at Vale Park by mid-table side Scunthorpe United. Goals from Mark Cullen and Nathan Smith were not enough to hold the Iron’s at bay as two equalisers from Alex Gilliead and George Miller gave the visitors a share of the spoils.
Vale started the brighter of the two teams and as early as the fourth minute threatened to give Vale the lead. David Amoo collected the ball on the right wing, running, and beating his defender with ease before trying his luck with a curling effort to the bottom left hand corner only for Rory Watson in the Iron’s goal to turn it round the post. David Worrall put over the resulting corner, but Watson gathered comfortably on the back post.
Scunthorpe failed to heed the warning and on sixteen minutes the Valiant’s took the lead. A good pass from James Gibbons again sent Amoo down the right wing, again stepping past James Perch, and firing across the edge of the six-yard box. His cross was part cleared by Gilliead, fell to Burgess who placed a shot on target, Cullen flicking the ball on route, as it nestled in the bottom left hand corner.
Vale continued to dominate proceedings and managed to have the ball in the net again on forty-two minutes, Amoo breaking play up before driving into the box and crossing to an unmarked Cullen to side foot into the open net, only for the Assistant Referee to flag for a border line offside.
Vales failure to turn chances into goals was punished on seventy-one minutes as Iron’s substitute Devarn Green slid a pass through the Vale defence to Gilliead who calmly rounded keeper Scott Brown and side footed into an empty net to give the visitors parity completely against the run of play.
Vale’s reaction was immediate, sending on talisman Tom Pope for Tom Conlon, but it was an unlikely hero who put Vale back into the lead. On seventy-eight minutes Worrall won himself a corner, which he promptly took to the back post. Smith tussled with Gilliead at the back post, getting the better of the striker and bundling the ball into the back of the net and setting Vale on the way to a likely three points.
But the Iron’s were not to be denied and completed a smash and grab raid on ninety minutes. Vale again switched off to a quick throw allowing John McAtee to put a speculative cross into the Vale box. Keeper Brown might have come to collect but it was Miller that reacted first, pulling off the back of Leon Legge, getting the faintest of touches, and placing the ball past the flat-footed keeper.
Despite the point, and Vale moving back into the play-offs, for many today’s result will feel like a defeat but as Vale extended their unbeaten run to seven games, maybe a reality check was just what the Doctor ordered as we go into the last ten regulation games.
I spoke to Assistant Manager Dave Kevan after the game.