VALE’S ATTACK TURN A PAGE
THE GOALS may not be flowing freely at Port Vale but Rob Page believes an attack spearheaded by Uche Ikpeazu earned their crust against Sheffield United.
The Valiants had scored just three goals in their last four games but Ikpeazu’s fifth strike of the season secured a win against the Blades – who have now won once in their last six games.
And Page declared that it was his side’s best performance since he took over last October.
“I’m really proud of the team for the effort they out in. We played exceptionally well, particularly in the first half and no one could have complained if we had won by three or four goals,” he said.
“This was the most complete performance by a Vale team under my charge.
“The only disappointment being we conceded a goal deep in to time added. Sheffield United are an excellent team but we forced our game on them and had them rocking at times.
“In football a team will always have blips. We’ve had a spell of not scoring but Uche Ikpeazu was terrific and was given excellent support.
“It’s pleasing to have climbed the league but there is a long way to go. For all this was our best performance of the season, no one will be getting carried away. There is much work still to be done but I’m delighted.”
Chris Basham’s shot from the edge of the box was deflected for the Blades early on and from the resultant corner, Ikpeazu was forced to head over his own bar.
But the home side began to dominate with both Enoch Andoh and Byron Moore having efforts saved by Mark Howard.
Then on 16 minutes, Colin Daniel’s low cross into the box met by Byron Moore who made no mistake from six yards.
Vale continued to dominate the first period and their pressure finally paid off just before halftime. Ikpeazu turned David Edgar, brushed aside another challenge and his powerful shot crashed in off the underside of the bar.
Within two minutes Conor Sammon’s fine cross from the right was met by Billy Sharp – it looked a certain Blades equaliser but Ben Alnwick produced a magnificent at point-blank range.
Vale came close to increasing their lead on 67 minutes when Colin Daniel’s pile-driver from 18 hit the bar.
United mustered a late charge and were rewarded when Matt Done bundled home from close range in the 90th minute, but it was too little too late.
“We have to go up this season and we won’t do it playing like we did,” said Blades boss Nigel Adkins. “The goal right on halftime and their keeper’s brilliant save at the beginning of the second half did for us. We didn’t play well. In the first half they bossed the midfield and I was disappointed to see that happen.
“It was a bad defeat and I’ll not hide away from it. I back my play- ers but, over the next few days, I need to look again at this performance. All managers get emotional after matches, I need to take stock of this performance in the cold light of day and reevaluate.”
PORT VALE (4-4-1-1): Alnwick 8, Purkiss 7, Duffy 7, Streete 7, Dickinson 7, Moore 7, Grant 8, Foley 8, Andoh 8, Daniel 7 (7, Leitch-Smith 90, N/A), Ikpeazu 7 (Dodds 74, 6) Subs not used: Johnson, McGivern, Birchall, Hooper, Brown SHEFFIELD
UNITED (4-1-3-2): Howard 6, Freeman 5, Edgar 4, (Kennedy 46, 5), Collins 5, Wallace 4; Basham 5, Coutts 4, (Done 60, 5), Flynn 4, (Adams 46, 5), Baxter 5, Sammon 5, Sharp 5 Subs not used: Long, McEveley, Reed, Campbell-Ryce
STAR MAN ANTHO
NY GRANT PortVale BATTLE: Paul Coutts of Sheffield United is challenged by Port Vale’s Anthony Grant