Clinical Vale pile pain on Johnson
PATIENCE paid off handsomely admitted Rob Page as his Port Vale side somehow escaped from struggling Barnsley with a precious victory.
The visitors were second best for much of this game, but they grabbed a goal either side of the interval to condemn the Tykes to an eighth straight League One defeat, keeping the pressure firmly on their manager Lee Johnson.
Page, whose side moved to within just four points of the play-off places, said:“We knew it would be tough here because although Barnsley have been on a poor run in the league, they had a good win in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in midweek.
“We knew we’d be forced onto the back foot for periods in the game, and we also knew we’d have to really roll our sleeves up and defend well.
“We were patient in the first half, and that paid off handsomely because we got the goals either side of half-time and that gave us a platform.
“It’s so important that you takes those chances in away games.That’s proved to be the case again here because Barnsley pushed us back again in the closing stages.”
The Tykes dominated the first period but Vale struck with their first noteworthy effort of the game in the 40th minute, with Ajay Leitch-Smith nodding home Michael O’Connor’s cross to register his first goal of the season.
At the other end,Vale goalkeeper Jak Alnwick had been kept busy as he saved superbly from Adam Hammill and Marley Watkins.
The hosts were punished again just two minutes after the restart as Sam Foley made it 2-0 with his fourth of the season, firing left-footed into the top corner after meeting Adam Yates’s lay-off.
At that point prospects looked particularly bleak for the Tykes, though they bossed the remainder of the game and did grab a lifeline in the 78th minute. A James Bree cross wasn’t cleared, allowing sub Sam Winnall to pounce on the loose ball as he side-footed home. Conor Hourihane missed two great chances to level in the dying minutes, but Vale managed to hang on.
Tykes boss Johnson said:“It’s disappointing because Port Vale have scored from the only two chances they created.
“It’s frustrating, but our supporters can see that the players are giving their all despite the results.Teams just seem to be able to find a way to play against us, so now it’s up to me and my staff to work out why that is.
“We can pull ourselves out of this mess – I’m still convinced of that.We’ve just got to stick to our values and principles.”
STAR MAN MICHAEL O’CONNOR