View From The Bycars
For much of the second half it looked as though Burton`s sequence was going to be broken by a 1-0 defeat, until two late goals produced a scoreline that more truly reflected the game. Injury-hit Burton`s performance might charitably be described as desperately ordinary. They were one-paced and carried very little goal threat.
Even so, in the first half a flat-looking and ragged Vale struggled to break them down. A goal eventually came on 43 minutes, when Rigg headed across the six-yard box for Richards to finish at the far post. It was one of those moments when everything went into slow motion. Richards seemed to take an age to get the ball under control and then the ball took an age to hit the back of the net. That ought to have been that, but 1-0 leads are never comfortable.
Vale played much better in the second half, with characteristic moments of brilliance from Dodds, Taylor and Rigg that characteristically failed to achieve any end product. Only Dodds will know how he managed to miss with only the goalie to beat after turning the Burton central defenders inside out. On reflection, Dodds will not know how he missed. If he did, he wouldn`t.
Although Micky Adams is clearly the best manager we have had for many a long day, and I was glad to see him back after his unhappy time at Sheffield United, I have struggled to like him. But you can`t fault him the past few weeks, not only in terms of his general behaviour in difficult circumstances but also of his football decision making. He thoroughly deserved the ovation he got last night. Bringing in Marshall and Shuker was a master stroke. Older readers will remember the television series 'The Manageress`, starring Cherie Lunghi. She turned the fortunes of her club round by employing a visionary Scottish coach, who memorably described the ideal midfield as containing 'a cruncher`, 'a buzzer` and 'a spreader`. There are no prizes for guessing who our 'cruncher` is, but now we have a 'buzzer` (Shuker) and a 'spreader` (Marshall). There have been times recently when we have looked a very good team. More`s the pity then for the state to which we have been reduced off the field by flagrant bad management (note the restrained language here).
I have always ignored the injunction 'stand up if you love the Vale`. I don`t have to prove my love for the club to anyone, least of all to myself, but last night I did stand up (twice). This was the most poignant moment of the game and I am convinced that the emotion generated was what sucked the second goal into the net (sorry, Louis, but I am not convinced that you got even a floppy hair on it). The fans were magnificent and so were the players, all, of whom stood up and were counted.
Up the Vale!