Date: 3rd January 2012 at 10:30am
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Burslem Boy looks at Vale’s home defeat to Cheltenham…

From a Port Vale perspective it is difficult to know whether to be inspired or depressed by the example of Cheltenham Town this season. After escaping relegation by the skin of their teeth on the last day of last season, few (and none of the Cheltenham fans of my acquaintance) predicted that the Robins would be sitting second in League Two at the turn of the year.

Their team sheet does not induce fear in opposition fans. Only Pack among their players looks a class act and he scores too few goals from midfield to be considered a real threat. But Cheltenham are an effective team. They play the pressing game well and are threatening on the break. Their current success is based on a mean defence (the second best in the division after Swindon), but whether they can score enough goals to maintain a top three place remains to be seen.

For much of yesterday`s game it didn`t look as though Cheltenham would score at all. They were second best in terms of territory and possession for most of the afternoon, but Vale rarely had their back four in serious trouble. Myrie-Williams looked Vale`s best bet for an opening. He has pace and a trick and is two-footed, but his final ball was abysmal and nearly all his good work on a tricky pitch that was at once slippy and bumpy was wasted. Myrie-Williams clearly has talent, but yesterday we saw why his career has been so unfulfilled and why he is languishing on loan in League 2. As the game wore on it became apparent that if Cheltenham were to keep their run going it would be down to Vale`s inability to engineer a clear cut chance and their inability to keep a clean sheet.

Cue two dismal defensive lapses, the first leaving Bennett unmarked on the far post, the umpteenth soft headed goal we have conceded this season, and then letting the diminutive Smikle (who sounds like a refugee from Lord of the Rings and is about as big as a Hobbit) run the length of the Vale half before scoring on the near post. Only in the last few minutes did Vale induce panic in the Cheltenham defence, but by then it was too little too late. We were shown what a small club, well run on and off the pitch, can do.

Even more depressing than the game`s outcome was the post-match phone-in demand by many Vale fans for the club to go into administration. This shows how low we have been brought by the current and previous regimes. As for Mr Adams, his comments this morning show that he seems finally to have realised what a mess the club is in. He must have been the last person on the planet to realise this. Welcome to 2012!