Smith is furious at blunder by Berry
QUEEN Victoria was on the throne the last time Port Vale completed a league double over Walsall – and Saddlers manager Dean Smith was certainly not amused with referee Carl Berry.
Berry’s decision to award Vale a controversial second-half penalty decided this tight clash between two sides still harbouring play-off ambitions thanks to Peterborough’s wobbles.
It handed Vale a first league double over the Saddlers since 1899, moving Micky Adams’ side above Walsall in the process.
And after seeing the defeat rob his men of the chance to make up ground on Posh, Smith blasted Berry for penalising what he termed ‘good defending’ by Paul Downing on Vale’s Tom Pope.
Smith fumed: “There was nothing in the game – we didn’t deserve to lose but we didn’t deserve to win either.
“Unfortunately somebody we can’t control has made a decision that’s allowed Port Vale to get the win. I’m angry because it was a great piece of defending from Paul Downing and the ref has given a penalty.
“We had a decision at the end of last season at Crewe when Carl Berry was refereeing – it wasn’t a penalty that day and it wasn’t a penalty again here. Unfortunately he has made a mistake twice.
“Paul was just shielding the ball back to the goalkeeper, it was great defending. I’ve said that to Paul and I will keep saying that to him because it was really good defending.”
Vale had the best efforts in a scrappy first half, Chris Birchall sending a delicious 30-yard chip inches over, while Doug Loft was similarly close with a 20-yard volley.
The game was decided seven minutes into the second half as Berry pointed to the spot after a tussle between Downing and Pope, and Jennison Myrie Williams slammed home from the spot.
Walsall were awoken by the perceived injustice but Vale keeper Sam Johnson twice saved well from Saddlers substitute Milan Lalkovic.
Saddlers youngster Amadou Bakayoko had the chance to make it a dream debut off the bench but shot weakly at Johnson and Vale hung on.
Adams said:“15 points, that’s the target. The message to the players is let’s finish the season well and try to win as many games as we possibly can.
“If I say we’ve got no chance of getting there, I get accused of being negative and not selling season tickets.
“We’re on 57 points, four points off the playoffs, we will try to win as many games as we can from now on in.”
STAR MAN DOUG LOFT PortVale