This game was not one for the purists as Vale’s early double was enough to see off a struggling Stevenage side and run out easy winners cementing their place just outside the playoffs with those vital games in hand.
As early as the 2nd minute Brad Walker gave himself a difficult afternoon picking up an early caution as he was miss footed and forced to pull back Stevenage striker Luke Norris with the striker poised to burst into the Vale box. Zain Westbrooke took the free kick from the right hand side of the field but it was met firmly by James Gibbons who cleared, the ball being picked up again by the visitors, Jake Taylor firing the ball into the box but Tomas Holy had read the danger well and collected above his head on the edge of the six yard box.
This only served to awaken the Valliant’s and on 6 minutes, Jamie Proctor held the ball up well on the edge of the Stevenage box winning a free kick as his shirt was nearly pulled off his back. Gibbons placed the ball just wide left of the Stevenage area and supplied a perfect effort around the penalty spot, the heads going up, as the ball was glanced goalward, striking the right hand upright before nestling in the corner to put the Vale one up, the unfortunate touch coming from defender Luke O’Neil on its way into the net.
On 9 minutes it could have been two, the ball being threaded through the inside left channel to Ryan Edmondson who burst into the area, taking the snap shot as the angle narrowed and the defenders started to cover, but Christy Pym in the Stevenage goals did well and managed to get his right foot to the effort as Stevenage scrambled the ball away.
Vale did though double their lead on 12 minutes. Great work down the Vale right allowed David Worrall to pick a long cross to the back post, Proctor dropping off the back of his marker to head back across goal. Despite a lack of white shirts in the area, Vale won the ball back on the edge of the box as it was passed out to the left towards Gibbons who left his defender for dead, passing along the six yard box and there was Edmondson to fire into the bottom left hand corner to make it 2-0.
Vale continue to push forward on 15 minutes, Gibbons winning a corner down the Vale left. Gibbons took it himself, firing the ball towards the penalty spot and despite a good headed effort from Connor Hall, the ball sailed to the left of the post and out for a goal kick.
With the stuffing knocked out of the game by the early brace it took until the 31st minute for either side to fashion a chance, a corner for the Valiant’s. Worrall ran across to take from the right, hanging the ball up around the penalty spot with help from the swirling wind, Ben Garrity getting the run on his marker and meeting the ball with a clean header towards the top right hand corner but Pym had it covered and claimed above his head.
It took until the 46th minute for Stevenage to finally muster their first shot on goal, a long range effort from Luke Norris stinging the fingers of Holy in the Vale goal but he gathered the ball at the second attempt.
The first half chance of the second half fell to the visitors on 47 minutes as Norris threaded a ball through to his strike partner Charlie Carter, the striker running at the Vale defense before cutting back onto his right foot, but the ball was always rising and Holy watched it pass over the Vale goal and into the Hamil Road stand.
The next significant moment of the game from a Vale prospective though occurred on 74 minutes as Vale lost David Worrall, the Wingback having had a quiet game to that point, was left on the deck with what looks like a nasty knee injury and despite intensive treatment was replaced by David Amoo and he must be a doubt for Harrogate this forthcoming Tuesday.
As Vale moved into the final quarter of the game, they created a couple of chances. On 74 minutes they won a corner down the left. Substitute Chris Hussey took it, but it was overhit, and cleared the melee in the penalty area and trickled out of play.
On 78 minutes Vale carved out another half chance, this time they attacked down the left, the cross finding David Amoo on the edge of the box but as the winger come striker stretched for his header, he could only direct wide of the right upright.
Again the visitors left their best chance of the half for the final minute, a Corner from the attacking right was cleared by Smith, the ball falling to a Stevenage shirt but his effort on goal was deflected for a second corner. The second effort was crossed into but the Vale defense was resolute and the ball was cleared to safety.
Not the performance many fans will have been wishing for especially after the great start, but its three points in the bag and with a winnable trip to Harrogate Town on the Cards, there is time yet for Vale to cement their place in the top seven in the week ahead.