Date: 8th September 2012 at 8:08pm
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Tom Pope returned to haunt his old side as his four goals rounded off a scintillating display from the Valiants that condemned Steve Evans` Rotherham to a 6-2 hammering at Vale Park. Micky Adams named the same side for the sixth successive game, the first time Vale had managed this in 18 years. He was repaid in style as his side produced a wonderful display full of verve and attacking intent during the first half in particular.

The game was seen as a test of Vale`s promotion credentials following an impressive start to the season. Going on today`s performance, with the side in this mood, Vale will be more than a match for anyone in the division. With doom and gloom surrounding the club during the close season following the collapse of Keith Ryder`s proposed takeover and the loss of influential players in Marc Richards and Anthony Griffith, hopes for the new season were hardly high. On the evidence of the season thus far, if anything, the Valiants look a better all-round side, being less reliant on what was somewhat of a one dimensional approach in recent times.

Louis Dodds` expertly taken first less than five minutes into the game followed a precise and delicate through ball from Chris Shuker. Some more impressive team play saw Vale double their lead ten minutes later when Myrie-Williams and Shuker combined to play in Duffy on the right hand side and his cross was converted by Pope, who celebrated a goal against his former employers in enthusiastic style.

A joy of Vale`s early season play has been the form of wide men Myrie-Williams and Ashley Vincent, who tormented Rotherham`s full backs to such an extent that Wilson was saved further embarrassment on the half hour mark, while the former Bolton defender Nicky Hunt didn`t fare any better, enduring a miserable debut as he was booked and given a torrid time before being replaced at half time. A close range finish from Pope was followed by a terrific fourth from Vincent. The Millers were hit on the counter attack as the Birmingham born winger raced on to a through ball before outpacing the Rotherham defence and firing an unstoppable shot past Shearer. Worse looked set to follow for the visitors. However. Michael O`Connor`s goal restored some pride, and credit to Rotherham, and in particular the impressive Ben Pringle, who continued to press forward at the beginning of the second half in search of an unlikely comeback. A disputed free kick led to an equally disputed penalty which Daniel Nardiello coolly dispatched to send panic briefly through the Vale faithful.

Any hope of a collapse mirroring Vale`s infamous 4-4 draw with QPR was ended by Pope`s hat trick. Chris Shuker`s free kick was deflected onto the post and Pope, often so unselfish for the team, scored an uncharacteristic typical ‘striker`s` goal, poking in from close range. More haphazard defending gifted Vale a sixth and Pope a fourth, when the Sneyd Green born frontman took advantage of an error by Mullins to put the gloss on what was a wonderful afternoon for Vale supporters.

It`s too early to suggest that the good times are back, but after a truly miserable 18 months, today was pure joy for a side and set of supporters who have had to suffer administration, mismanagement and broken promises over recent times. It`s a start at least.