Valiants End 2013 With Rotherham Win
The Valiants ended a memorable 2013 with their sixth consecutive win over Rotherham United. A terrific goal from the returning Louis Dodds and a second from Gavin Tomlin lifted Vale into 7th spot, only two points off the play-off positions.
A year ago the club were fighting to exit administration, so to be in such a position, with the possibility of further progress in the FA Cup still to come, is testament to the work of Micky Adams, his staff and players as well as Chairman Norman Smurthwaite.
While no one would argue that all is rosy in the Vale garden, the club`s financial state remains confused at best, and with Adams and several of his key staff approaching the end of their current contracts. However, few could have envisaged quite the progress the team has made over the past few months.
Adams himself has impressed. Under pressure towards the end of last season when Vale`s promotion push seemed to be imploding, several supporters questioned his ability and tactical acumen to lead Vale into the new campaign (me included). The Vale boss has shown a tactical flexibility not always evident and has demonstrated that even established members of his squad will be dropped if they are not performing. While few would give Vale a genuine chance of securing a play-off berth- the side`s worst is some way off the requisite standard- credit must go to the Vale boss for the job done thus far.
The Valiants rounded of their league programme for the year with a thoroughly professional display against the in form Millers. Only the disagreeable Steve Evans could quibble with the result. A contentious sending off and a hint of offside for Gavin Tomlin`s decisive goal only made the result sweeter. Louis Dodds` well taken goal gave Vale an early lead. One which was maintained by Sam Johnson`s penalty save midway through the half. A Michael O`Connor free kick came close to levelling matters on the stroke of half time, with the upright saving the Vale.
Claude Davis` daft sending off all but settled matters early into the second half. Regardless of Pope`s theatrics, Evans should direct his ire at his centre half for such a needless and petulant action. Tomlin`s close range finish but the seal on a memorable year. Here`s to 2014.