Vale 1 Wolves 3
The Valiants were undone by the superior finishing ability of their Staffordshire rivals as the Wolves ran out 3-1 winners at Vale Park.
A crowd of over 12,600, including 4,400 from Wolverhampton witnessed the game. Micky Adams and Vale supporters will feel somewhat aggrieved by the score line, as the home side matched the visitors in many areas for periods of the game, but were ultimately undone by some sloppy defending and quality finishing.
The Vale boss made one change to the side that was beaten at Oldham with Anthony Griffith added to the midfield in place of Kaid Mohamed. An even first half saw little clear cut action. Jennison Myrie-Williams failed to connect to Doug Loft`s teasing cross, while the clever movement of Leigh Griffiths was causing the Valiants problems.
An injury on the stroke of half time to Scott Golbourne forced Kenny Jackett to alter his formation, something which caused the Valiants a few more problems during the second half. The visitors increased the tempo, but it was a defensive error which led to the opener. Carl Dickinson failed to deal with a long diagonal ball, paving the way for Griffiths to fire home from the edge of the box.
Vale responded well, for the first time pushing Wolves back and almost found an immediate riposte. Adam Yates` left wing cross was met on the run by Doug Loft, only for the midfielder to see his header cannon back off the foot of the post. Dickinson nearly made amends for his mistake, the impressive Ikeme acrobatically tipping his volley over the bar.
Despite the statistics, the feeling remains that Hughes and Pope are not an effective combination, particularly at this level. Given the lack of pace and mobility, they simply do not threaten in behind opposition defences enough. Both need quality service into the box, something that neither has had enough of this season. Louis Dodd`s introduction, operating in the space off the front two caused one or two problems, though his finishing didn`t match his enterprise.
With Vale pushing for an equaliser, the obvious threat of a break-away goal lingered, and the visitors duly obliged. Griffiths` cross was expertly met by substitute Siguardarson to all but seal matters. A debut third for Kevin McDonald was harsh on the home side, who were at least rewarded when seeing last season`s top scorer Pope open his account for the new season. A few more of them will be badly needed over the coming months.
Much for Adams to ponder ahead of next week`s trip to Carlisle United, who - despite yesterday`s draw - at Brentford, have endured a difficult start to the campaign. In the meantime, the Valiants host League Two side Bury in the JPT Trophy on Tuesday (7.15pm).