Burslem Boy takes a look back at Vale’s 3-0 win over Barnet..
Never mind the crippling uncertainty off the pitch. Never mind the lack of wares in the club shop. Never mind the lack of sponsorship. Never mind the encouraging performance against Barnet. The real news is that one of the urinals at the Bycars End has been painted. Hallelujah! Never has paint smelled so sweet.
Given our recent dismal home record against Barnet, Saturday`s result was doubly welcome. We shouldn`t get too excited. Barnet have some skilful, nippy players. They tried to get the ball down and play. They had some decent possession in the second half, but they were rather lightweight and never posed much of a threat and what threat they did pose evaporated once Tom Pope struck an excellent third goal.
At the start of every season there are two key questions. The first is ‘are we stronger than last season?` The second is ‘who will score the goals that will propel us to success?` There was some encouragement to take from Saturday`s game with regard to both questions. Neal brought an air of calm to the defence, though he didn`t have to make a save worthy of the name. A much-fitter looking McDonald had a fine game. At his best, McDonald looks poised and authoritative (as well as being two-footed); at his worst he appears lumbering and about to commit a rick. Up front, Pope and Dodds look a good combination. This is surely Dodds` best position. Out wide, Myrie-Williams provided a microcosm of his career. He is only 24 and has had more clubs than Peter Stringfellow. There is clearly something wrong. Perhaps Micky Adams can get into his head and make him realise his talent. Vincent was strong in the first half, but faded in the second. Morsy barely wasted a pass, but managed to get himself cretinously booked for deliberate handball in the middle of the pitch, in added time in a game that had been well won for at least fifteen minutes. Shuker was less impressive. His set pieces were poor and his general play was error-ridden. We don`t look to have enough legs in central midfield. Overall, though, the team looks better balanced than for some time. The next two games against teams where our away record is not great should provide clearer evidence of what we may expect on the pitch in this most vital of seasons.