The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Les Scott

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

PIC­TURES: Sportimage


NY GRANT PortVale BAT­TLE: Paul Coutts of Sheffield United is chal­lenged by Port Vale’s An­thony Grant

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