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Port Vale Lose Latest Friendly

It had been 515 days since Vale Park had last opened its gates to a paying audience and a crowd of 2708 – swelled by more than five hundred travelling fans – came to witness the return of spectators to a Port Vale home fixture. The majority of those attending would leave with disappointment at the result – a 2-1 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday after a towering header from Dominic Iorfa and a superb late strike from Fisayo Dele-Bashiru trumped Vale skipper Tom Conlon’s close-range effort.

The Owls capitalised on a period of pressure when they won a corner on the left. Middlesbrough loanee Lewis Wing floated in the flag-kick and Iorfa was able to rise virtually unchallenged to head comfortably home to open the scoring

Vale levelled on the half-hour mark just seven minutes after falling behind. David Worrall did well down the right and when his fierce shot was blocked Conlon was on hand to force the ball home from inside the area.

Multiple changes to both line-ups after the break meant an inevitable downturn in the flow of play. The first half had seen both sides have spells of pressure with some neat flowing football but the game seemed to be drifting to a stalemate.

But the game was won for Wednesday with a goal worthy of winning any contest. With ten minutes left on the clock there was some excellent approach work from the visitors and a backheel from Horede Adedoyin released Dele-Bashiru who unleashed an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net.

Only the most diehard of Port Vale fan could argue that the visitors were not worthy of the win as Lucas Covolan had pulled off a string of fine saves to keep his side in the game. He dropped down swiftly to his left to save as Adedoyin tried to finish an Olamide Shodipo cross with a deft flick, then arched his back to tip a Shodipo header over his bar. Shodipo then scythed through the home defence before cracking in a cross-shot that Covolan turned aside at full stretch.

The keeper probably saved his best to the last. A corner from Alex Hunt was met by a glancing header from Ciaran Brennan but the Owls’ sub was thwarted by a stunning save.

In contrast Vale were unable to concoct too many clear-cut chances. Conlon stung the keeper’s hands with an early effort before later turning superbly on the spot only to hit straight at the keeper. Devante Rodney got himself into a good position only to be denied by a superbly timed tackle by Massimo Luongo and a late free-kick was hammered into the defensive wall.

That superb display by Brazilian Covolan would have been the highlight of the conversation as the supporters made their way home even if the Vale faithful will be hoping that he will not needed quite so much much action when the action soon becomes much more serious. For the moment, though, the great thing is that football is finally back.

Dave Stringer
Sports Reporter and Theatre Critic

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