Burslem Boy gives us his view on Vale’s win over Hereford…
Last night was a depressing experience, a worryingly poor turn-out, a drab performance and a draining sense of uncertainty. The post-administration euphoria that has infected many Vale fans appears to have worn off. Some seem only to have calculated the advantages of our going into administration, getting rid of Deakin & Co., without factoring in the dangers. I have always been concerned that the patient might be killed by the cure. Reading a truly bleak edition of Derek I`m Gutted on the train on the way home did nothing to lighten my mood.
Meanwhile, back on the pitch, things are not looking great either. There is something in the ‘British character` that favours ‘psychological` explanations for bad performances over ‘technical` ones. When your team performs badly it`s because the players don`t care, weren`t ‘up for it` &c. rather than because the midfield is unbalanced or the strikers keep taking up one another`s space. There are plenty of reasons why Vale players may be feeling flat and demoralised at the moment, but no one can say, after the past few games, it`s because they don`t care or aren`t trying their damnedest. We badly missed Griffith last night. Morsy is not a holding midfielder. He`s more like Shuker. This duplication clearly did unbalance the midfield, where we gave Hereford far too much room all evening.
There was always plenty of space down Hereford`s left but that was mainly because there were no Vale players there. Dodds kept wandering inside and unbalancing the midfield further. Rigg always carries some threat, but he doesn`t have the pace to be an effective winger and he was up against possibly Hereford`s best player on the night, Ben Purkiss. In the first half, in particular, whenever the Vale midfield got the ball they immediately gave it away, with Morsy and Marshall especially at fault (Marshall`s set-pieces were also abysmal). This meant that the ball got lumped upfield where it invariably landed on the head of our old friend from Barnet and Cheltenham, Michael Townsend, who must carry round a supply of Paracetamol whenever he comes up against the Vale. Although Vale had one or two chances in the first half, Hereford looked pretty comfortable. It seemed like a nailed on 0-0 unless Vale could contrive to give Hereford a sloppy goal as they have so often against other teams this season, but Davis had a very solid game at the back alongside a clearly not fit McCombe and when all else failed Tomlinson for once stopped everything and handled impeccably.
But, cometh the hour, cometh Tom Pope. On 86 minutes he found the best pass of the night, a simple looking chip that wrong footed the Hereford defence, put Richards in acres of space and with all the time in the world to bury his header. Even then, there were plenty of alarms, but as much as Hereford huffed and puffed and no matter how many times they fizzed the ball across Vale`s six-yard box they never really got anyone on the end of the move. John Rudge used to say that ‘a good striker covers a multitude of sins`. It is equally the case that the absence of a good striker undoes a multitude of virtues.
As Derek says the future may look black at the moment, but it has to be black and white. Up the Vale!