Given the results elsewhere this evening, fans with be breathing a sigh of relief but know much work remains to be done as Darrell Clarke secured his first Vale victory under his tenure, Devante Rodney providing the all-important goal for the Valiants as they overcame high flying Newport County 2-1.
Vale started brightly, Manny Oyeleke turning his marker and was brought down in the process. Tom Conlon stood over the free kick and sent it into the box, the ball being flicked on, but the ball seemed to hit Zak Mills and trickled out for a goal kick.
Vale though weren’t to be denied and took the lead in the twelfth minute. Excellent work down the right from Mills, the right back moved the ball forward to David Worrall, who dummied and turned his defender in one movement, making his way to the by-line before pulling the ball back to the edge of the box to an unmarked Conlon who calmly side footed the ball into the bottom left hand corner giving Nick Townsend no chance in the Newport goal.
On eighteen minutes, Vale won a dangerous free kick after a surging run from Montano was ended by a trip on the edge of the box, just left of centre. Conlon again stepped forward, striking the ball with a fabulous ‘whip’ forcing Townsend into a fine save with the help of the bar.
Moments later though Vale had their first warning of the evening, a terrible mistake at the back post from Montano, missing his clearing header, allowing Liam Shepard to send the ball across the Vale goal but there’s no one in amber to get the telling touch.
As the game passed through the half-hour mark, Vale were a little guilty of over playing as Worrall did well to steal the ball but couldn’t find Rodney, Vale lucky to win a free kick thirty yards from goal. Fresh from his last fine effort Skipper Conlon struck it, but his effort was deflected for a corner. Worrall swinging it in the front post, Smith flicking on, but its headed clear. Newport though still hadn’t cleared the danger as the ball found its way back to Worrall who crossed with left foot, but the keeper did well to claim above a variety of Vale heads.
As the half ticked to a close Vale continued to pour forward, excellent play in the midfield, the ball broke free to Robinson on the edge of the box, the striker curling an effort towards the back post, but it’s headed away and Newport clear their lines.
If it was Vale that started the first half well, it was the Visitors that took a grip of the second and as early as the forty-eighth minute, Vale will still lucky to be leading as Leon Legge was forced to charge down a shot on goal, the ball falling perfectly to Ryan Taylor who stuck it on the volley, Brown getting fingertips to it to put it on the bar and Vale scrambled it clear.
Vale though failed to heed the warning and the Visitors equalised on fifty-five minutes. Mickey Demetriou played a low ball into the path of Luke Gambin, who flicked it forward into the penalty box. Jake Scrimshaw was the first to react and fired through the legs of Scott Brown to bring the scores level.
But as many fans feared Vale retreating into a rear-guard action, it was Vale that hit back, a long ball forward received a vital flick on by Leon Legge, Worrall cutting the ball back to Nathan Smith who fired goalward. Townsend did well to repel the first effort, but the ball only fell to Rodney who slot home from close range.
Many feared an onslaught for the final fifteen minutes but Smith and Legge were resolute in their defensive duties and eased Vale to their first win in nine to finally give Manager Clarke a good nights sleep.