Port Vale v Crewe Alexandra 24th January 2015

Although Port Vale (the Valiants) is based in Staffordshire and Crewe Alexandra (the Railwaymen) in Cheshire, they are geographically only a few miles apart. Therefore when the two meet in the English Football League One it is a big derby match day. I started my volunteer football commentator activities at Port Vale and completed nine seasons based there. But when public transport issues became problematic, after a three month break I transferred to Crewe Alexandra, and am in my third season now. So when these two meet my emotions are mixed as I’m a fan of football rather than a supporter of any particular club.

On the day of the game I unexpectedly found myself with some extra time in the afternoon. With a decent signal on my mobile phone, I decided to follow the events at Vale Park by checking the mobile app “one football” and the Twitter feed from Crewe Alex FC. Using nothing more than these two sources I decided to try and compile a match day report for posterity and this is what I came up with:

First Half: It would appear that both teams were evenly matched with both creating six efforts toward goal, as well as a penalty being saved.

0-15 mins: Port Vale took the initiative when Marshall, positioned outside the box, put a right foot effort too high. Michael O’Connor quickly followed with a 35 yard volley targeted straight at Crewe’s keeper Ben Garratt, giving him an early test. The ball then streaked across the face of goal and went wide from Birchall’s endeavour, all of this action occurring in the first seven minutes. When Port Vale’s Robertson conceded the first corner on ten minutes it was time for Crewe to aim for goal. Jamie Ness launched the ball toward the corner left of the six yard box and found George Ray, who watched his header being saved by Vale keeper Neal in the middle of goal. Shortly after a low ball from Ikpeazu was collected easily by Neal before a Baillie shot into the final third was blocked by Port Vale’s defence.

16-30 mins: Ben Garratt had to make himself big in the box to prevent Ben Williamson breaking the deadlock for Vale. Almost immediately the ball ended up the other end of the park and George Ray forced a save. The main drama happened on 24 minutes when Neal fouled Ajose in the box and conceded a penalty. Ajose’s right kick (after a stuttered run up to the ball) was saved by the Vale keeper who dived to his bottom left side.

31-45 mins: Yates watched a long range shot go high and wide for the home team and Ajose had another effort blocked. Dickinson conceded a corner to Crewe and this time Jamie Ness provided a lovely weighted through ball to Ajose positioned in the middle of the box. His right boot succeeded in placing the ball in the bottom left corner of the net. With 45 +1 on the clock Michael O’Connor’s attempt was saved to keep the score at HT Port Vale 0 Crewe Alexandra 1

Second Half: Port Vale piled on the pressure after making their three substitutions simultaneously, creating nine efforts compared to the oppositions six. Interestingly the Crewe Alex Twitter feed didn’t spring to life until about 15 minutes into the second period!

45-60 mins: Immediately after the interval Dodds got close to goal but found the angle too acute and watched the ball go wide. Ajose in his predatory position in the middle of the box put a volley toward the centre of goal and had it saved. Port Vale’s O’Connor was given a yellow card on 51 minutes and their man Dickinson tried to level the score with a long range effort which went high on 59.

61-75 mins: At the start of this period Port Vale made their three substitutions with Lines, Daniel and Pope coming on for Brown, Birchall and Dodds respectively. In the five minutes that followed whilst the Port Vale squad settled Ness put the ball toward the goal area twice. One shot from outside the box missed going wide left and the other from a direct free kick curled but went high and ten yards wide of the target. Ikpeazu then forced Vale’s keeper Neal to make a save at full stretch from the top right corner. Vale began really pushing the Alex from this point with Williamson forcing a save from six yards out. Robertson’s header failed to convert a Port Vale corner and an O’Conner volley from distance was stopped by Garratt.

76-90 mins: James Jones watched his effort in the final third go high over the bar for Crewe Alex. The Railwaymen made their first substitution on 78 minutes bringing on Ollie Turton for Anthony Grant in midfield. Port Vale’s response in the latter part of the game appeared to be launching long balls into the box seeking out Tom Pope. The Valiant’s top scorer this season, despite being out for thirteen games with a knee problem, failed to capitalise on the supply. Harry Davis helping the Crewe defence soak up the pressure found himself in the book with a yellow card on 82 minutes. Vale’s Daniel at this point had just seen a shot from outside the box drag wide of the right post. Crewe replaced Ikpeazu with Dalla Valle up front with four minutes of regulation time remaining. On the ninetieth minute Tom Pope from two yards out had a free header and his best chance to level the game. Garratt in the centre of his goal took the direct shot and saved it. Five added minutes gave hope to Port Vale and piled on the agony for Crewe. Chris Lines with a vicious left foot shot from outside the box rattled the crossbar. Stewart replaced James Baillie on 90+4 minutes in an attempt to shore up the Alex defence and soak up the aerial onslaught from the Valiant’s. Crewe’s Tate managed a header clearance off the line on 96 minutes before the final whistle sounded. This ensured that the result remained at FT Port Vale 0 Crewe Alex 1.

Crewe Alex had pulled off a club double victory this season against their local rivals, I believe the first time that accolade has happened in the club’s history. The last “double victory” was claimed by Port Vale in the 1985-86 season. It would appear that both teams played with enormous spirit, great gusto without being dirty (only two yellows issued) and provided end to end entertainment from start to finish. Well done lads.

PORT VALE: GK Neal; Defence- Yates, Dickinson, Robertson, Veseli; Midfield– Dodds (Pope), Birchall (Daniel), O’Connor, Brown (Lines); Forwards-Marshall, Williamson.

CREWE ALEX: GK Garratt; Defence-Davis, Ray, Tate, Leigh; Midfield-Grant (Turton), Ness, Jones, Baillie (Stewart); Forward-Ikpeazu (Dalla Valle), Ajose.

Note: Leigh able to play left back, left midfield position and Baillie right back, right midfield position. I suspect as the pressure intensified both players helped form a five man defence with Ajose slotted into a midfield role leaving Ikpeazu up front alone.

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