Vital reader Burslem Boy takes a look back at Vale’s win over Tranmere…
I have never subscribed to the view that football is just another part of the entertainment business. It`s a funny old world, so there probably are people who go to football matches in the same spirit and with the same expectations that they go to the cinema or the theatre. They would have enjoyed yesterday`s game. It was undoubtedly entertaining. I found it much too entertaining. Having blown a two-nil lead last week it looked very much as though we were going to blow a three-nil lead. The game looked dead and buried at three-nil, but there is always the nagging thought that this Vale team does not keep clean sheets. And so it proved with two goals, both from set pieces, conceded in the space of a minute. No longer game over, but game on.
Vale produced another utterly aimless first half performance. It was difficult to see exactly what they were trying to do. Tranmere did not look like a team hovering above the relegation trapdoor, at least not going forward. They had pace and movement up front and Koumas was a constant probing threat from midfield. They looked much more like scoring than the Vale, but failed to do so. Tranmere`s defence, however, looked pleasingly vulnerable whenever Vale got the ball into the box, which -characteristically – was not often enough. It was from a right wing cross that Williamson and Pope linked well, for Pope to put away a chance that was more difficult than the two he missed in the second half. But there was generally far too much lumping the ball upfield where it often bounced off Williamson. Williamson is reputed to be very strong as well as very quick, but he does not hold the ball up well. Knott again looked to have quality, but the game was played over his head.
Ironically, at least until they scored, Tranmere looked much less threatening in the second half. Pope, who dominated Taylor throughout the game, was always a threat and Williamson began to run the channels, creating more space for Pope and Myrie-Williams. The second goal was worthy of winning any game. Williamson laid the ball back to Knott who scored with a sweet strike into Fon Williams`s bottom left hand corner. Williamson then got on the end of a Pope flick and put the ball through Fon Williams`s legs. This goal seemed to unsettle Vale more than it did Tranmere. The team never seemed to get its concentration back. Knott gave away a ridiculous free kick. Vale failed to clear their lines. Corners ensued and from one of these Taylor, who was being marked by the much shorter Griffith, powered a header into the top corner. Another goal conceded direct from a corner. It was after this that Tranmere played their best football, at the heart of which were Koumas and Wallace.
But even so, chances came and went at the Bycars End. Williamson began to torture the lumbering Arthurworrey. Every time we got the ball to him it looked as though we would score. Loft spurned an excellent chance. Pope missed a very similar open goal to the one he missed at the Molineux. This time the ball did undoubtedly bobble, but he should still have scored. Pope takes his misses to heart. Had he scored this one I am sure he would have scored the next one he missed, when put through clean on goal by Williamson. Pope is usually excellent in these situations, but he dithered trying to make sure and the chance was spurned. We could and should have scored five goals in this game, but in the end we were grimly holding on.