Vital reader Burslem Boy takes a look back at Vale’s 2-2 draw at AFC Wimbledon…
I think this was the first time I have ever seen the Vale playing away from home live on TV. I don`t know about you, but I hate watching the Vale on the telly. I find it really stressful. To the normal stresses are added having to blank out the inane commentary and the ‘neutral` punditry of Mr Allen. Bill Leslie belongs to the modern school of commentary, which requires commentators to talk non-stop. I felt like screaming when he told us for the umpteenth time that Wimbledon had the worst home record in the division and that Tom Pope was the leading scorer in English football. I presume that giving the seriously irritating Midson the Man of the Match Award was someone`s idea of a joke. He hardly touched the ball in the second half.
You certainly have to hand it to Wimbledon. They created one chance and scored two goals. Vale were dire in the first half. The midfield struggled to establish any control and at one stage, during Wimbledon`s 10-minute purple patch, they were overrun, despite (again) the Herculean efforts of Burge. Our two wide men barely got into the game, offering little in attack and less in defence. Vincent`s failure to track the run of Fenlon was a major contributory factor to Wimbledon`s opening goal.
The front men got no service at all other than long balls out of defence. It was looking a lost cause until Jones struck with a speculative shot on the brink of half time that managed to avoid a plethora of bodies and bury itself in the right hand corner of Sullivan`s goal. The second half was much better. Loft got into the game and began to dominate midfield. Wimbledon did not look to have the same fitness levels as the Vale and visibly began to tire. Once Pope squared things up with a truly remarkable goal, the scene was set for an improbable victory, but one that never quite came. In the context of the match, it was a point gained. In the context of the season, I fear it may be two points lost.
As with any game, it is a case of whether you take more notice of the good points than the bad. There were plenty of good points. Jones had a fine debut and looks to offer us something new. He was excellent going forward. Whether he is as sound defensively remains to be seen. In Purse we at last have a defender who attacks the ball. And top marks to the team for fitness and character on a small and difficult pitch. On the downside, I was not impressed with Hughes. He got rave reviews after the Gillingham game, but last night he did not run the channels or create space either for himself or for Pope and he missed the best chance of the game that would surely have been the winner. We looked much better when Williamson came on. Vincent was again awful. Myrie-Williams was the usual mixture of the sublime and the bizarre.
Football is an easy game to make difficult. We needed to get the ball into the box quicker and more frequently than we did. Myrie-Williams was not the only player at fault in this regard and to be fair to him he did put in some fine crosses. Most worrying of all was the frequency with which we were almost undone by very ordinary passes out of the Wimbledon defence. We are far too easy to score against. The Vale can play much better than they did last night – as I am sure everyone connected with the club knows – and we will have to if we want to finish in the top three. We have not won a divisional title since 1959. Finishing in the top one would be even better.