Swindon Fight Back Stuns Vale
Vale contrived to throw away a two goal lead as Swindon produced a stunning second half fight back to take the three points in farcical conditions at Vale Park.
In the pre-match build up, Vale boss Micky Adams had stressed the need for an improved defensive performance as his side`s profligate nature over recent weeks had become a serious problem. However, despite the changes in personnel, the issue reared its ugly head once more. The frustration must remain for Adams, as many problems have been caused by daft individual errors, more so than a lack of organisation.
Billy Knott was handed a first start for the club, while Carl Dickinson returned following his two game suspension. In difficult conditions, Vale found themselves fortunate to go into the break two nil up. Playing with the wind in the first period (Swindon made the correct call by winning the toss and choosing to bowl, as IT were) Vale were second best for periods in what was a scrappy encounter. Jennison Myrie-Williams produced a rare moment of skill to set up Doug Loft for a near post finish to put the Vale into the lead.
The visitors missed two guilt edged opportunities to equalise. The game`s outstanding player, Alex Pritchard, volleyed wide, while Michael Smith wasted an even better chance to level. Vale doubled their lead through rather fortuitous circumstances. A clearance cannoned off Chris Lines and fell kindly to Tom Pope. Vale`s top scorer ended his eight game goal drought. Just. His shot squirming under keeper Foderingham.
The gale force winds and driving rain made conditions even worse as the second half began. The Valiants lost all composure and discipline as Mark Cooper`s side started the half brightly. Their high-tempo pressing of the ball was particularly impressive. Vale struggled to contain the midfield running of Luongo and Pritchard as the visitors began to create chances at will. Adams responded by attempting to shore up that area by introducing Griffith for the ineffective Tomlin. In hindsight, the move backfired as Vale struggled to even get out of their own half, with Griffith culpable on several occasions. With little support for Pope up front, Vale were pushed deeper and deeper. After Ranger`s header had halved the deficit, the writing appeared to be on the wall. Smith and Ranger both struck the woodwork as Vale were being run ragged.
The inevitable equaliser came about through a wonderful free kick from Pritchard. An unnecessary foul by Griffith, whose poor form continued, gave the on loan Spurs midfielder the chance to curl in a 25 yard effort into Neal`s top corner.
More haphazard defending resulted in a third. Pritchard and Smith combined to find the on-rushing full back Byrne. The defender bundled the ball into the net with Vale`s midfield nowhere to be seen in support.
Pope wasted Vale`s only opportunity of the half when he headed Loft`s cross wide, but the manner of his side`s second half surrender will give Adams plenty to ponder ahead of Tuesday`s game with Colchester United.