The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By An­drew Brook

WITH Dar­ius Hen­der­son stuck in traf­fic, Fabio Liverani thrust David Mooney into his start­ing line-up and the striker scored the piv­otal penalty, as Ley­ton Ori­ent reignited their sur­vival hopes.

The O’s ran riot for 50 min­utes; scor­ing three, hit­ting the wood­work three times and miss­ing a penalty. But for the first 40 min­utes they were ab­ject.

Liverani said: “Hen­der­son got caught in a road ac­ci­dent, which kept him held up for hours, but we have a wide squad with qual­ity play­ers and I’m pleased with the play­ers who played in his place.

“It was a pos­si­bil­ity he could have started, but Mooney was the other pos­si­bil­ity and that was fine.

“We were a bit scared in the first-half, but I’m very pleased with the per­for­mance in the sec­ond-half.

“In­ci­dents play a big role in foot­ball and we had a big in­ci­dent with the penalty and it turned the game.

“We did get a bit of luck with the sec­ond goal, but we also hit the post three times, so I don’t think we’re in­debted to luck.”

Port Vale went ahead when Chris Bir­chall held off Gary Sawyer’s weak chal­lenge to score across Alex Cisak.

It was less than Vale’s early as­cen­dancy de­served. Louis Dodds’ pow­er­ful vol­ley was saved and Chris Robert­son’s shot cleared off the line.

Tom Pope should have dou­bled the lead, but Cisak half-saved and a sandy goal­mouth slowed the ball enough for Mathieu Baldry to clear.

But hav­ing dom­i­nated for 40 min­utes, Vale en­tered half-time charmed to be ahead.

Chris Neal dex­ter­ously di­verted Mooney’s curl­ing shot from the top cor­ner and Dean Cox crashed a vol­ley against the post.

Ori­ent’s resur­gence con­tin­ued af­ter the break. Neal de­nied Chris Dag­nall from point-blank range, but the striker soon had his re­venge with the goal­keeper’s piv­otal red card that turned the game.

Dag­nall rounded Neal and chose to fall over the grounded keeper, in­stead of round­ing him and scor­ing into the empty net. Mooney scored the re­sult­ing penalty past Neal’s re­place­ment Sam John­son.

There­after traf­fic con­tin­ued in one di­rec­tion - one more than Hen­der­son had ear­lier ex­pe­ri­enced on the A406.

Although Ori­ent had gone seven matches with­out victory against 10 men, they bat­tered John­son’s goal.

The sub­sti­tute stop­per re­acted well to deny Mooney and Dag­nall hit the re­bound against the post, but John­son was at the cen­tre of a hor­ren­dous cock-up for Ori­ent’s sec­ond goal. He half came off his line to claim a cross, only for debu­tant loa­nee Neill Collins to head the ball into the va­cant net.

John­son then felled Mooney sim­i­larly to Neal had Dag­nall, although the wider po­si­tion en­sured he avoided a sim­i­lar fate.

He saved Mooney’s penalty, but could do noth­ing when Cox pen­e­trated Vale’s back­line and scored from 25 yards to lift Ori­ent within a point of safety.

Vale manager Rob Page was a dis­ap­pointed man af­ter the turn­around in the sec­ond half saw his side head home empty-handed.

“As soon as he gave the penalty we have our backs against the wall,” he said. “It’s a penalty, but whether it’s a send­ing-off I don’t know, be­cause the man was go­ing away from goal.

“The frus­trat­ing thing is that we said at half-time, ‘limit the mis­takes, make the right de­ci­sions, play in their half’ and we didn’t do that in the sec­ond-half. We in­vited pres­sure.

“There was only one team in it in the first-half. We got the goal and I thought we frus­trated them into hit­ting longer passes.

“I was con­fi­dent at half-time know­ing that we were 1-0 up and that we’d had the ma­jor­ity of the play in that first-half.

“But we went out and made the wrong de­ci­sions, gave a penalty away and then it’s backs against the wall from there for us.”


JUMP FOR JOY: Dean Cox cel­e­brates with Theo the mas­cot. Inset: Vale keeper Chris Neal is sent off for a foul on Chris Dag­nall

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