Vale 2 York City 2
Vale contrive to throw away a two goal lead at home for the second game running as visitors York City earned a deserved point. Jamie Reed`s late equaliser put a dampener on the earlier celebrations surrounding the unveiling of the Sproson Statue. The occasion was a fitting one both for Roy and his family and credit must go to all those involved in the project. It`s a pity the apathetic performance that followed didn`t follow suit.
Micky Adams opted against giving a first start to Ryan Lloyd in the absence of League Two`s player of the month Ashley Vincent. Robert Taylor was preferred on the left wing, with Adam Yates filling the left back berth. There were also returns for John McCombe and Richard Duffy in defence, while Louis Dodds was preferred to Ben Williamson in attack.
Once again, as has become a rather worrying trend, the Vale started slowly, with the Minstermen controlling possession with their neat passing game without offering much of a threat in front of goal. Over recent weeks there has been a notable absence of the high tempo pressing game that was evident during the early weeks of the season. If any game needed a high tempo it was this one. York`s back line were given acres of space to bring the ball out of defence and control the majority of possession. Whether the official statistics can ever be believed is anyone`s guess, but Gary Mills` side had a staggering 67% of the play. Although Vale struggled to get a grip on proceedings, they undeservedly went in front after half an hour. Richard Duffy`s neat control and cross found Tom Pope in the box. For once, League Two`s leading marksmen failed to convert the opportunity; however, Ryan Burge was the first to capitalise on the loose ball to put the Valiants in front.
Despite claims to the contrary, Chris Smith can have little complaint after handling Chris Shuker`s shot in the box. Jennison Myrie-Williams once again made no mistake from the spot, expertly converting for his sixth of the season. Any hopes that Vale would run out comfortable winners proved fruitless. Vale strangely opted to sit on their lead and York, although not offering any great threat to Chris Neal`s goal, continued to dominate. However, the inevitable goal came about following some comical defending from Clayton McDonald, who failed to deal with a regulation clearance. Despite his improvement this season, there are times when McDonald punches his weight about as much as Audley Harrison. The ball kindly ran through to Alex Rodman, who finished coolly to halve the deficit. Once (fingers crossed) Alchemy Investment`s imminent takeover is complete, one area Micky Adams will need to address is Vale`s lack of physicality in midfield. Even in games where Vale have simply outgunned opponents, there have been occasions where they have been overrun and outmuscled. Replacing the ineffective Shuker with the equally diminutive Sean McAllister changed little. In defence of the Vale boss, with Doug Loft, Sam Morsy and Darren Murphy all missing, he has very few options at present. However, the changes, whether they were too late or not, made little difference. Only following Reed`s equaliser did Vale show any ambition or drive. In fact, the final five minutes were arguably Vale`s most productive of the game, though the winner proved elusive.
Vale remain in second spot ahead of Tuesday`s clash with Bristol Rovers. However, a return to the rampaging early season form, or some much needed additions to the squad are essential if Vale are to stay there for much longer.