‘Kick in the teeth’ – but Port Vale ready for last 10 games of thrilling season


Port Vale actually moved into the play-off places with this result, something that got lost a bit in all the frustration at the final whistle.

They’re handily placed in seventh with ten games to go, but this game made the case both for making it and just missing out.

This took the Vale’s unbeaten run to seven games, still beaten just once at home, and only eight defeats home or away all season, which suggests they are on course for that top seven.

On the other hand, in a tight race, they lost momentum, and what could be a crucial two points when George Miller was allowed to head home from close range in the 90th minute to make it 2-2.

If the Vale are just squeezed out, they will look back on the points thrown away, not just here but away to Mansfield, Leyton Orient and Salford where they also conceded equalisers in the last-minute or in injury time.

Assistant manager Dave Kevan didn’t attempt to hide his frustration straight after the game, saying this ‘felt like a defeat’.

But he also said that feeling would fade and there will be plenty of twists and turns in the final ten games.

Port Vale’s Mark Cullen runs towards the paddock after scoring Vale’s opener in he 2-2 draw at home to Scunthorpe

He said: “When we go 2-1 up, you expect to win the game from there. But credit to Scunthorpe, they kept plugging away and they have dug an equaliser out of nothing really.

“But look, there are going to be some ups and downs between now and the end of the season. We just need to make sure we ride them and make sure we are ready for the next one.

“Of course you want to keep clean sheets and you want to be winning. Of course you do, but football’s not always like that, we just need to keep digging away and see where we are.”

That next one is away to fourth-placed Cheltenham on Saturday. Vale won there 3-1 in the FA Cup in November, but Michael Duff’s side have won five games on the spin to move into contention for automatic promotion.

Vale will have to play better than they did here, or at least better than they did in the second half. They looked convincing play-off contenders in the first 45 minutes and deservedly took the lead on 16 after David Amoo beat his man down the right. His low cross was only half cleared to Scott Burgess whose shot was flicked home by Mark Cullen. 

They thought they had scored a second when the outstanding Amoo again broke free down the right and had his cross converted by Cullen from close range, only for the striker to be flagged offside.

A second goal might have finished Scunthorpe off, particularly as they lost their outstanding forward of the first half, Abo Eisa, just before the break, then had their top scorer Kevin van Veen forced off ten minutes into the second half.

But Vale’s efforts lacked the intensity of their first-half performance, although Scunthorpe’s equaliser still came out of the blue, on 71 minutes, when Alex Gilliead got behind the defence and rounded Scott Brown to score.

Vale snapped out of their slumber to regain the lead, on 78, when Nathan Smith converted Dave Worrall’s corner at the back post, seeming to get the last touch off his backside.

They all count, but unfortunately so did Miller’s leveller, netted when the substitute got between Leon Legge and Scott Brown to glance home John McAtee’s inswinging cross.

Kevan added:  “We felt we could have done better for both goals. Whether we stop the cross (for the first goal), whether Scotty Brown can maybe come and help us out, it is hard to say.

“I’ve had one look at it back and I am sure Scott will and analyse it. He has been fantastic all season. But whether he could have done better for us, we’ll discuss that over the next week or so.

“At this stage it is not really about the performances, it is just about getting your results now.

“If we keep grinding out results, whether it be a point – when it should have been three, possibly – we have to take it and move on.

“We have shown all season that we can put a kick in the teeth behind us and be ready to go again for the following game. I am sure the lads will be back up and running for Cheltenham.”

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