Clin­i­cal Vale pile pain on John­son

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Si­mon Smedley

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

Port Vale

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