Vale 1 Dagenham & Redbridge 1
In the context of Port Vale`s season, wherever that might lead, last night`s draw against Dagenham & Redbridge may turn out to be two points lost; in the context of the game it was very much one point gained. Vale never at any stage looked like winning, but then neither did Dagenham until the previously immaculate Neal had a Robert Green moment on 72 minutes, letting Luke Howell`s innocuous shot squirm through his legs. No one looked more surprised than Howell. Lewington, who generally had an excellent game, especially in the first half, did not do much better three minutes later when he could only help Myrie-Williams` shot into the net. Curiously, this equaliser seemed to stimulate Dagenham more than it did the Vale, who became progressively more ragged. Alarming amounts of space began to appear all over the field and Dagenham started to exploit them. They had good, not to say easy, chances in the final ten minutes and ought to have gone on to win the game.
Dagenham are a big well-organised team. They were first to almost every ball and closed Vale down relentlessly. The canny John Still used his substitutes well in the second half, so that Dagenham maintained their physical input. They don`t appear to have much of a goal threat, but they are fit and resolute. The longer the game went on the more Vale resorted to pumping forward hopeful long balls. Pope, who was excellent in the first half, was gradually reduced to ineffectiveness and Dodds had a game to forget. During the last three games, the flowing football seems to have been well and truly switched off. Micky Adams restored Sam Morsy to midfield, where he did reasonably well. Doug Loft reverted to left back, where he had another difficult game and did not offer much going forward. This midfield tinkering does not seem to have had the desired effect. Shuker and Morsy are not an ideal combination; they are both essentially playmakers, but they are the best we`ve got at the moment. Myrie-Williams had one of his in and out games and Vincent was generally well marshalled by the impressive Ilesanmi, but the wingers are both capable of sowing doubt in the minds of opposition defenders. If we can get decent ball to them we will win more games than we lose.
One of football`s favourite clichés is that 'goalkeepers are over protected`. Well, not at Vale Park they`re not. I must have seen a dozen instances this season of outfield players being sent off for tackles on other outfield players far less vicious than the two assaults Neal has been subject to in the last two home games.
Keep the faith!
Report by Burslem Boy