Port Vale were edged out 4-3 by Tranmere Rovers in an incredible game at Vale Park. Over to Vale fans to have their say….
ROB RHEAD: “A real kick in the guts, this one. The most influential man in the pitch? Referee Carl Brook who had you guessing at every decision.
“The award of the Vale’s penalty for the opener might have been a little generous but he excelled himself in the second half. First by sending off Luke Joyce for an admittedly poor tackle in which the conditions played a part then secondly by not giving a foul on Tom Pope in the build up to Tranmere’s opener.
“Vale had, by then, entered siege mode as Tranmere dominated with the slick passing and possession they had employed in the first half. Tranmere had an equaliser chalked off for something (don’t ask me what) but they were not to be denied for long as the referee spotted a foul through a crowd of players.
“The Vale retook the lead from a free-kick awarded by Mr. Brook even though the assistant gave nothing, but two defensive lapses by tired players in extra time cost us the match. The only positive to take from this match was the Vale’s second goal from a well-worked corner routine which was a credit to the coaching staff and the work done in training.”
ANDREW BLAKEMORE: “From embarrassment last week, to devastation this week. You just had a feeling we were not going to hold on to this. John Askey has a mammoth task picking this team up after that 96th minute sucker punch.
“The day started so well when we found ourselves 2-0 to the good, then either a moment of madness from Luke Joyce or the inexperienced official, changed the game. Following the red card, why there weren’t changes made straight away to ensure we didn’t throw a two-goal lead away is beyond me.
“It seemed inevitable we would lose the game; we’ve seen it all too often watching Vale. After Devante Rodney’s goal you just hoped that we might, it became the longest and most dramatic 21 minutes, resulting in feeling absolutely gutted.
“So, instead of finding ourselves potentially going into Tuesday night where we could have been top of the league with a win (dependent on goals scored), we need to get a win to get us back in the play-offs, anything less will simply not be good enough.”
PHIL SHERWIN: “That was one of the most extraordinary games I can ever remember. At 3-2 up in the 92nd minute, you don’t expect to lose.
“We seemed to be in control after 50 minutes. Maybe our penalty for our first was fortunate but our second goal was a brilliant move for David Amoo’s goal.
“Tranmere were knocking the ball about but not hurting us much but Luke Joyce’s red card changed the game – and I think it was a red.
“Then we seemed to go mass defence. Tranmere have some good players and played well, fair play to them.
“It was a great header from Devante Rodney to get us 3-2 ahead. Maybe we should have brought on another defender with five minutes to go to get us over the line.
“It wasn’t to be but it’s not the end of the world. If we win on Tuesday against Scunthorpe we will go fourth – and if we win 4-0 we go third!”
JAMES SMITH: “The game management when we lost a player was the worst I’ve seen for some time. The substitutions in terms of personnel made sense but positionally were utterly bizarre.”
IAN BRAMMER : “To be honest I don’t think we deserved anything from this game. Tranmere started the better, kept the ball well, passed and moved, the left winger being the main threat.
“The Conlon penalty was a little dubious but you take them don’t you? Amoo’s goal was brilliantly worked, pure class. Still, while we huffed and puffed Tranmere played the better football.
“The second half started similarly to the first, then came Joyce’s tackle- was it a red? I’m not sure but you go into a tackle studs up, late you run the risk of being sent off!
“Pope appeared to be fouled in the build up to their equaliser. The ref then disallowed Tranmere a goal, I have no idea what for. Rodney headed us back in front and I thought we might see it out. Tranmere continued to press and push us back. Six minutes of added time-again, I’m not sure where that came from but we paid the ultimate penalty for sitting too deep. The referee was very poor but consistently so, for both teams. Disappointing performance and gutting result given that we were 3-2 up after 92 minutes.”
SCOTT LINGARD: “Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. I thought we were the victim of a poor ref today, but I’m sure the visitors would have said the same if they had lost.
“It was a harsh penalty for us, but put away well. A great team-worked goal from a corner made it 2-0, but you could not say we were cruising at the break.
“They came out up for it in the second half, but it was a poor challenge by Joyce and he was probably rightly sent off.
“It went downhill from then on. Poor subs cost us the game, not for the first time. The players have to look at themselves in this one, but the manager has to take the blame for not changing things when we lost a man. This is not a team looking like a promotion side yet, but it’s a long old season.”
SCOTT CHALLINOR: “I thought we deserved a point at minimum. First half was a classic Askey’s Vale performance against one of the better footballing teams in the league: we sat in, stayed organised, and restricted them to very little other than overhit crosses and shots from distance.
“Our soft penalty first half was probably evened out by a soft penalty for them in the second half, and I felt both disallowed goals (one for either side) probably should have stood, because both were again very soft fouls if anything.
“At 2-0 up and playing the organised game, we knew we’d have to soak up a spell of pressure just after the break, let them start running out of ideas and use the subs well to nick a third and see out the game.
“Right in the heart of that spell of pressure, Joyce makes a needless challenge. I couldn’t gauge how high it was, if it was halfway up the man’s leg like people are saying then fair enough, but initially it looked mistimed and you’re thinking a yellow straight out the pocket. But, the ref made the big call, whether it was a red or not Joyce should not go to ground.
“Then their first goal: yes it’s soft, but after the ref set a tone of giving soft fouls I think he has to give us a free kick leading up to their first for the push on Pope. It’s minimal contact but the lad has his right hand up and helps him over. That doesn’t go our way and they get the goal directly from that early in the half.
“That rattles us and gives them the impetus to go on. If we get the free kick and can see out ten more minutes with a two-goal lead intact, we then grow in belief and they start to get frustrated. Getting the rub of the green there gave them a massive leg up at a key time.
“I’ve covered their penalty and their disallowed goal, then we show immense character to get ahead (and it was a definite free kick for us by the way for Rodney’s goal) and for what it’s worth I thought Askey’s changes were spot on, but Manny should not have played as advanced as he was, he needed to sit in a bit more.
“Then comes the shocking six minutes added time, which probably should’ve been just three or four, but then we’ve got two defensive lapses that lose us the game: Smith’s clearing header for their third was a poor one, and Morris had far too much time to line the shot up and pick his spot for their winner. With ten men though under that amount of pressure you can only hold out for so long.
“Joyce should get a rollicking, there’s a couple of errors in there to address, and we also have a right to feel aggrieved. I’m not buying this rhetoric that we deserved nothing from the game. 11 vs 11 there was only one winner and with ten men we were good value for a hard earned point.
“Yes they monopolised possession after the red and maybe had more of the ball before then, but they did very little with it until the sending off, which incidentally has been a Vale problem in games gone by too, lots of possession but no penetration. Three points lost but it’s a freak game, draw a line under it, move on, and if we win our game in hand against Scunny on Tuesday we go joint third and today won’t matter.”