Date: 2nd April 2014 at 12:12pm
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Burslem Boy takes a look back at Vale’s win over Crawley…

Yesterday, and not for the first time this season, I left Vale Park wondering how on earth we had managed to win the game. Crawley would have had ample time on their long journey back to the deep south to reflect on how they managed to lose it. Vale were once again dire in the first half. Crawley should have put the game to bed long before they scored from a penalty, given away by Joe Davis after a foul on a Crawley player, who turned out on closer inspection to be Rory Fallon, for whom the epithet ‘much travelled` does scant justice. I can`t believe he`s only 32. I presume Crawley found him in the same box marked ‘The Disappeared` that they found John Gregory.

It doesn`t take much to undo the Vale defence – a hopeful ball over the top, followed by brain dead and feeble defending. Vale just didn`t look like a team. Loft, for all his whole-hearted effort, lacks tactical discipline. He wanders all over the place, leaving huge gaps in front of the hapless Jones, who needs all the protection he can get. On the other flank, Myrie-Williams was again double-marked whenever he got the ball. He does not help himself by never getting behind his markers. He likes the ball to his feet, which means that when he gets it the game immediately slows down.

I keep hoping that Lines will take a game by the scruff of the neck, but he was as negative and ineffective as always. It wasn`t so long ago that Hugill was being described as a ‘diamond` and the ‘real thing`. If this is the case, I don`t see how Tomlin is keeping him out of the team. Pope struggled manfully, despite being constantly fouled, but only Knott ever looked capable of rising above the general mediocrity. And it was Knott who got Vale back into the game with a spectacular strike on 50 minutes. It was the classic ‘goal out of nothing`. Crawley should still have won. Clarke, who looked like the real deal, too, when he started out at Ipswich, has drifted down the leagues, but he has pace and good close control. He looked odds on to score when through one on one with Big Sam, but Johnson got in an excellent block. Even when Crawley went down to ten men it was barely noticeable. They still looked more likely to score than the Vale. Cue goalkeeping blunder. There must be something about that end of the pitch. All recent instances I can remember of balls squeezing under goalies have been at the Hamil End. Serve Crawley right for ‘turning us round`.

I am not a referee basher normally, but Mr Miller`s performance might best be described as ‘eccentric`, culminating in sending off Robertson. I have a feeling that the linesman said ‘it was No. 4`, so he sent off the Vale No. 4 instead of the Crawley No. 4. He should probably have sent Lines off for the foul that caused the ruck. You do have to wonder about these people sometimes.

Sky Sports News hyped the win as ‘Port Vale keep up pressure on the play-off places`. I was in the middle of pouring scorn on this when my son, ever the football optimist, said ‘well, we`re only four points off the play-offs and still have Walsall, Sheffield United and Peterborough to play`. Don`t hold your breath!