REPORT FROM VALE SITE
Official Port Vale website:
After securing a well-deserved point at Boundary Park last weekend, Vale must now carry on the good work in a game of immense importance against fellow-strugglers Mansfield Town.
The Field Mill crowd has seen goals galore this season, with the home side second only to league leaders Wigan Athletic in the scoring stakes, but a leaky defence has been their undoing and the Stags have conceded more than anyone else.
Peterborough United had the ball in the Mansfield net five times last weekend and we can expect the home side to tighten up at the back after that disappointing defeat, though the goals have hardly been free-flowing from the lads in white in recent games.
Michael Walsh and Peter Clarke are set to return to the Vale starting line-up, as is A.N.Other, who we are not able to name until the teams are formally announced as Brian Horton wants to keep it under wraps, but remember, there has been a flu bug in the camp this week.
Team Line Ups as soon as we get them:
Mansfield Town:Kevin Pilkington, Iyseden Christie, Lee Williamson, Adam Eaton, Wayne Corden, Rhys Day, Tom Curtis, Bobby Hassell, Keith Curle, Craig Disley, Junior Mendes
Subs:Keith Welch, Neil MacKenzie, Craig Mitchell, Andy White, Ben Doane
Port Vale:Mark Goodlad, Matt Carragher, Michael Walsh, Sam Collins, Neil Brisco, Michael Cummins, Steve McPhee, Marc Bridge-Wilkinson, John Durnin, Peter Clarke, Adrian Littlejohn
Subs:Joe Molloy, Ian Armstrong, Billy Paynter, Ian Brightwell, Steve Brooker
Brian Horton welcomes back Mark Goodlad inadvertently as Dean Delaney is a victim of a flu bug which has affected the managers preparations this week. This has meant a call up for fledgling Joe Molloy who replaces Goodlad on the bench. A welcome back also for Peter Clarke after international duty with England U21's.
For The Stags Iyseden Christie is fit and that will probably send a shiver down a few spines of the Vale defence as he has banged in 18 strikes this season, already including one at Vale Park earlier in the season.
Today's referee is Paul Danson of Leicester.
Vale kicked off to a formation remenicent of the old days as five players lined up on the half way line.
Christie caused early alarms as he flashed a cross beyond everyone as Vale had an early scare with a minute gone.
There were clear indications why Field Mill is a stadium giving value for money on the goals front as the home side found the groove early. A view cemented by Christie as Goodlad rescued Vale with his feet from the home strikers sharp chance.
It was Vale however who came closest after five minutes as Bridge-Wilkinson on the turn smacked Pilkington's right hand post after Clarke did the spadework.
A misdirected clearance by Clarke initiated a home attack and the prominent Christie was involved again as he laid the ball back for Eaton to thrash a thirty yarder in which Goodlad palmed for a corner.
Disley increased the defensive alarms by turning a drive wide and with 10 minutes gone The Stags were on top.
Vale were struggling to make an impression on proceedings as Masfield were overpowering them but it was Vale who were hitting the woodwork and Bridge-Wilkinson cracked another drive full onto the bar as Vale made another play for a lead without the possession in the 20th minute.
Disley made a play for the oscars as he swallow dived on the edge of the Vale box, but The Stags made a hash of the free kick with Corden stopping over the ball and the chance was gone 22 minutes in.
One wondered if Vale had weathered the storm as the Mansfield fire had blown out but Vale had still respect to pay and needed more of the ball if they were to push on for more.
Eaton played in Christie on the left who in turn slipped it to Corden and the ex Vale man did his party piece of feigning to cross one way then crossing with the othe foot but Walsh cleared the Vale's lines.
McPhee ran free to get the opportunity of the match but Pilkington saved the day. The Scot then returned a right wing cross which Littlejohn all on his own headed down but the ball bounced into the ground and over as Vale were still making the better opportunities.
Referee Danson had words with Brisco for a challenge on Eaton but no card and a sensible decision by the Leicester official.
The Stags returned to their attacking ways with Corden running through but Clarke cleared the danger as the home side threatened. The resulting corner went behind for a goal kick which gave Vale time to reflect on a strange half of football.
Goals were at a premium at a ground where they had flowed so far this season. It was not for the want of trying as two strikes on the woodwork testified and a host of good attacking play by both sides.
Mendes was an increasing threat with his pace down the right but ran the ball over the line as he skipped past Cummins .
Half time approached and Vale grabbed just what they wanted with the best move of the match. Clarke cleared his lines upto the halfway line Bridge Wilkinson played the ball out to Brisco who made tracks down the right. He crossed and Littlejohn squared the ball to the onrushing John Durnin who hammered the ball home with the aid of a Curtis deflection giving Pilkington no chance.
Visible delight from all on the bench and all in white shirts as Vale reached the break half way to a valuable three points.
Mansfield Town 0 Port Vale 1
No half time substitutions but in the first action Christie lunged in late on Clarke as he cleared giving Matt Radcliffe his first work of the day. The England Under 21 international continued after treatment.
McPhee clean through in the next raid but having taken the ball around the keeper he was blocked by the home manager Curle and the chance was gone.
Littlejohn's trickery provided another chance but Mansfield bodies outnumbered Vale and they cleared the danger.
McPhee again with a chance as he tricked his way through but with Pilkington advancing the ball didn't quite reach Littlejohn on the right who was viewing an empty net.
Mansfield knew they needed a break an Disley almost found it when put through by Christie he found Goodlad in top form with a fine parry as Vale saved the day on 56 minutes.
A reckless challenge by McPhee on the edge of his own area on Keith Curle earned him a booking on the hour mark. On came Mackenzie for Curtis before Corden brought Goodlad into action again from the resulting free kick 25 yards out as he turn his drive round the post.
On came Brooker for McPhee after 62 minutes.
Williamson chipped an effort just over and Christie somewhat surprisingly on 66 minutes was replaced by Mitchell.
Bridge-Wilkinson swung over a free kick but Vale were unable to convert as referee Danson penalised Brooker and Mansfield cleared with a free kick of their own.
Littlejohn had the opportunity to double Vale's lead but after racing away with Stags defenders appealing for offside he put the effort into the side netting when he should have done better.
Bridge-Wilkinson went down with an injury. How it was achieved is unclear but he had to be helped off. Ian Armstrong replaced him in the 74th minute.
Two minutes later and Eaton was replaced by White as The Stags need fresh impetus.
Armstrongs first work produced a drive from Brooker but Pilkington held well to keep the Stags in the game.
It was obvious to see why Mansfield leaked goals because Keith Curle's side really go for it with Vale regularly three on two when attacking. Armstrong nearly produced a finish for a Brooker tee up but Pilkington fumbled the ball to safety with Vale needing to settle it to prepare for the onslaught at the end.
Corden was booked in the 88th minute for a foul on Durnin.
White followed him into the book a minute later for some push and shove with the Vale defence.
Vale though whilst preparing for some stern attempts by the home side to level matters had little to worry about in the end and held on for that vital victory.
Mansfield Town 0 Port Vale 1
Man of The Match
Almost England class.
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