WARNOCK WORDS SPARK A REVIVAL
A PRE-MATCH chat with his former manager Neil Warnock helped Port Vale boss Michael Brown mastermind a vital victory over fellow strugglers Swindon Town.
Two goals from JJ Hooper helped Vale come from behind to win a pulsating match and afterwards Brown was keen to credit his old Sheffield United mentor with some wise words.
“Although I tried to play it down, I was really hoping for the win,” said Brown.
“I spoke to Neil in the morning and he explained the importance of the game.
“But he also said ‘make sure you tell the players to enjoy it’. It’s a message that whenever the pressure is on, we need to create a good atmosphere and he was the master of that.
“I do take the advice of my staff and even the players – I try to speak to the older players at half-time and I take in what they’ve seen.
“Some comments you like and some you don’t, but I’m still learning and I want to continue to learn.”
It was Swindon who made the early running as both Brad Barry and Nicky Ajose missed early chances with Vale’s defence stretched.
The game exploded into life on 35 minutes when Ajose’s speculative long range shot deflected off the unfortunate Kjell Knops leaving Leonardo Fasan rooted to the spot as the ball slowly rolled across the line.
Vale’s response was immediate and a minute later they were level after Olamide Shodipo’s right wing cross was helped goalwards by Hooper, before Chris Eagles pounced on Lawrence Vigouroux’s parry to score his second goal in as many games.
Vale upped their game after a break and took the lead following a clever set play as Kiko drove his free-kick low to the near post where Hooper was on hand to tap in via the post.
Two minutes later Vale were awarded a penalty after Eagles was hauled down only for Anton Forrester to blaze the ball over the bar.
And a bad day for Swindon got worse when the excellent Hooper raced on to a through ball only to be tripped by Barry, who received a red card and watched from the sidelines as the former Newcastle trainee stroked home a marvellous freekick.
Subsitute Luke Norris struck in injury time but this was Vale’s day as they drew level on points with their opponents.
“We are struggling to learn from our mistakes,” added Swindon’s head coach Luke Williams.
“The game was over at half-time if we’d scored the goals we should have, and we scored the two most difficult chances.
“The fans are very disappointed, understandably so, and we can accept the fact that we’re not quite there at the moment.
“But we want to see the players try and they gave a lot to try and get back on terms. It was not through lack of trying that we went behind – they gave everything.”
STAR MAN JJ HOOPER Port Vale DOUBLE TROUBLE: JJ Hooper celebrates the first of his two goals against Swindon