Where do we begin with the latest horror show from Vale?
The confidence of the players is well and truly shot to pieces, they don’t seem to know what they’re doing on the pitch. We can’t score goals. We can’t defend. We struggle to put any kind of cohesive moves together. What is really troubling is that Hartlepool are not a great side by any means, we will play alot of better teams than them this season, and yet they strolled to a comfortable 2-0 victory. Could have been worse as well, they missed a couple of great opportunities.
Vale came out with five changes to the team that had played so badly at Yeovil the previous week. Justin Miller, Colin Miles, Paul Harsley, Paul Edwards and Marc Richards all made their first starts of the season.
It took Hartlepool less than six minutes to take the lead.
As a Vale attack broke down Hartlepool’s James Brown took the ball into the Vale half before releasing the ball out to the left where Matty Robson had the freedom of Vale Park. Robson’s mis-hit shot trickled into the far corner.
Vale worked hard to try and get themselves back into the game, but simply lacked any guile or creativity. The two wingers – Tudor and Edwards – need to learn when to release the ball. Too often good situations came to nothing as these two dwelt on the ball for way to long instead of getting an early ball into the box. Edwards in particular seemed hellbent on showing us his reportaire of skills rather than simply putting a cross into the box, and Cristiano Ronaldo he certainly isn’t.
Hartlepool almost had a second on 18 minutes. With Vale’s defence all over the place a Richie Humphreys cross was hammered against his own bar by George Pilkington.
Vale again rallied, but with little impact. Sodje and Richards did little to impress during the first half, and couldn’t trouble the Hartlepool keeper when chances fell their way.
H-T Port Vale 0-1 Hartlepool Utd
The first fifteen minutes of the second half gave us some of the worst football i’ve seen for a long while, both teams happy to hoof the ball aimlessly around Vale Park.
Vale’s moment finally arrived on 65 minutes. A flick-on from Marc Richards found Paul Harsley galloping clear of the Hartlepool defence with just the keeper to beat. Harsley thumped the ball goalwards, and as we all rose to celebrate the ball struck the post. No matter, the ball rebounded straight to Paul Edwards who had the simple task of popping the ball into the net from six yards. But no. He couldn’t do it. As his shot trickled towards the net (why didn’t he just blast it? it was an open goal!) Hartlepool defender Godwin Antwi (who was superb throughout the game) slid in to clear the danger.
That was it for Vale. We never got that close to the Hartlepool goal again. Rodgers and Whitaker came on replacing Harsley and Richards, Callum Willock was thrown on with 14 minutes remaining, replacing Edwards, but to no avail.
Harlepool had three decent chances in the last ten minutes, wasting the first two, and putting the game way beyond Vale with the last.
James Brown was put through on 89 minutes with just Pilkington for company, turned inside Pilks before dragging his shot into Anyon’s left hand corner. 2-0 and game over. Vale Park immediately began to empty, the final whistle was met with boos from those who stayed that long.
Next week Vale travel to Bournemouth and Foyle has plenty to sort out in the meantime. Our defence is shot to pieces, the central midfield area is still not right – Hulbert, Harsley and Rocastle are all too similiar, a combination of the three doesn’t work. Danny Whitaker should be starting in the middle with one of these three partnering.
Joe Anyon 5
Joe didn’t really have that much to do in the game, but was beaten by two mis-hit shots, although to be fair the goalscorers had both broken through the defence.
Justin Miller 4
Never looked comfortable at all. Joined into the attacks well enough, but defending? Didn’t have a clue.
Jason Talbot 5
Unfairly booked in the second half. Jason struggled to make any kind of impact today and looked a bit lightweight at times.
George Pilkington 7
Vale best performer. I’m not George’s biggest fan, but he was by far and away the most accomplished looking player in the Vale team.
Colin Miles 6
Brought in to replace the shaky Keith Lowe. Certainly no worse than Lowe, McGregor or Walker at centre-back but Hartlepool still had it to easy.
Shane Tudor 6
Saw plenty of the ball in the first half but was unable to deliver the killer cross. Guilty at times of holding on to the ball for too long at times but still a threat.
Paul Harsley 5
First start of the season in place of Rocastle, but unable to control the game in midfield. Came close to scoring in the second half.
Robin Hulbert 4
Not his day at all. A game battler is Robin, but can do nothing with the ball at his feet.
Paul Edwards 5
I think he was trying to hard to impress the fans rather than put in a team performance. Needs to release the ball far earlier than he did. Missed the golden opprtunity to equalise.
Marc Richards 5
Still looks nowhere near match fitness, and laboured for most of the game. Had a chance early on, but really struggled to get involved.
Akpo Sodje 5
Never happened for Akpo. A game to forget, and maybe just maybe his last in a Vale shirt.
Luke Rodgers 5
Luke came on after 66 minutes replacing the ineffectual Richards. His usual busy self, but unable to unsettle the Hartlepool defence.
Danny Whitaker 5
Came on after 66 minutes for Paul Harsley, and had two decent chances, heading straight into the goalkeepers arms from 15 yards and firing over from twenty yards.
Replaced Paul Edwards on 77 minutes but unable to make any kind of impact.