Port Vale 3 Tranmere Rovers 4
Ian Dawes and Andy Parkinson’s 100% winning streak continues into their fourth game together as interim managers, with an amazing comeback in Stoke-On-Trent. The game will certainly be one to remember for years to come, action packed from the start with dubious officiating and a very high quality shown within Rovers’ performance. Going into the game, I predicted that this league encounter at Vale Park against JohnAskey’s ‘Valiants’ was going to be very closely contested yet I believed we would win. I predicted correctly, yet I underestimated how much action was to be involved. Should Dawes and Parkinson be named as permanent managers? They are certainly showing the Tranmere managerial role the respect it deserves, taking their side from a team that lacked confidence and ability to create into a side that looks practically unbeatable. Very exciting times for the Merseyside club, as the quality ‘on paper’ proves its quality on the pitch.
I personally believe, although I have seen people say that the game completely changed when the hosts received a red card, that Tranmere were always in control of the game and their attacking threat was shown from the off. Vale defended very well in the opening stages as their visitors started off with an attacking intent. Rovers only managed to create a few overhit crosses in the opening ten minutes despite a period of high possession. For example, young forward Corey Blackett-Taylor paced past his man but his cross had too much power on it and it went out for a throw in. However, they would certainly scare their hosts when they failed to pounce onto the space that attacking midfielder Otis Khan found himself in. Khan’s shot hit the bar, from distance, before bouncing out of the goal area. It would be Vale that opened the scoring, in the 16th minute, 24-year-old midfielder Tom Conlon converting from the penalty spot. This wouldn’t stop the momentum that Dawes and Parkinson’s men had built, full-back Calum Macdonald’s shot from the edge of the area whistling past the post. There were certainly encouraging signs shown from the visitors ability to attack, after a period of possession and attacking intent. However, Vale would double the scoreline in the 24th minute. A well worked corner finding the feet of forward David Amoo in the box and he was able to fire it past veteran goalkeeper Scott Davies. This was to be Vale’s last attack of the half, yet Rovers continued to pile the pressure onto their opponents defence. Tranmere’s attacking intentions resulted in set pieces that the taker failed to fire past the first defender, which of course was a Port Vale man.
Again, the Merseyside club would start a half of the encounter between two promising sides by attacking their afternoon hosts. Khan brought the ball forward and found the feet of Blackett-Taylor on the wing, the wingers shot forcing the keeper into making a good save. The pressure seemed to be too much for Vale to handle, as tempers flared in the middle of the park. Tempers flared that highly that veteran midfielder Luke Joyce would deliver a reckless tackle on Kieron Morris, this high-footed tackle would see Port Vale going from eleven to ten men. Very shortly afterwards, Blackett-Taylor would again beat his defender before crossing the ball to striker James Vaughan who struck his fifth goal of the season. Vale fans complained that there was a push by the winger before he crossed the ball successfully into the box, I think that if a foul was given it would’ve been very ‘soft’. A few minutes of madness soon followed, either way Rovers managed to equalise. Newly recruited midfielder Danny Lloyd’s shot was blocked in the box, Vaughan followed up and he netted. Yet it was to be ruled out for an apparent Lloyd handball, when attempting to place it in the way of his team mate. However, a second penalty of the afternoon was soon given when a Vale defender was late to reach the ball in his box, inevitably striking his leg onto the leg of a Tranmere forward who had his eyes on the ball. Vaughan would smash the ball ‘home’ from the penalty spot to get his second of the afternoon, straight into the roof of the net. Rovers would make their first substitution of the half when midfielder, Danny Lloyd, replaced forward Morgan Ferrier. Dawes and Parkinson using this sub in the aim of scoring a winner. However, the ‘Valiants’ would soon get a free kick at the other end for a drag back on a shirt as they delivered the ball into the box. This free kick was delivered perfectly into the box, meeting the head of Devante Rodney before reaching the back of the net. A great disappointment as the Rovers side had their eyes on scoring the winner, the defending for this goal to blame as no one came close to marking the goalscorer. Kaiyne Woolery soon replaced Corey Blackett-Taylor, an addition of pace up front. The visiting interim managers made another sub before stoppage time, loanee striker Sam Smith replacing centre-half Sid Nelson the game plan was now obvious. In stoppage time, there were what supporters call ‘scenes’ or ‘limbs’ .. a certain great few moments of euphoria followed. Firstly, Manny Monthe hit the ball up from his defensive position .. the ball was headed backwards by a Port Vale defender into the feet of forward Kaiyne Woolery who slot ‘home’ perfectly from not too far out. Slight euphoria as a point was gained from a losing position, yet there was a belief that with a few minutes left on the clock there was more to come. Attack after attack, the ball soon fell to Morris who controlled perfectly and … HIT IT STRAIGHT INTO THE TOP CORNER FROM FAR OUT. Rovers had done it. Scott Davies ran up to the attacking end, as players piled on top of each other in a last minute celebration. A victory had been achieved, a very deserved victory. Scenes in front of the ‘Ifollow’ packages that were followed by an Ian Dawes fist pump, I suppose it was a gesture of pride towards Mark Palios. If there’s one thing that we, as Rovers fans, can be proud of excluding the quality that we showed it is the sense of togetherness between everyone from managerial positions to players. The celebration of Morris’ winning goal typified that. The sense of togetherness is something that is needed within a team that is striving towards promotion and it is something that we can thank Ian Dawes and Andy Parkinson for reigniting into a once seemingly battered squad.
Quotes – from Ian Dawes following this league victory – https://www.tranmererovers.co.uk/news/2020/november/dawes-on-dramatic-three-points-at-vale/:
“I know it was a 4-3 game, but I was always calm about the side,” he said. “Even at 2-0 down, I thought we played really well and were the team dominating possession and likely to score. We came unstuck with a penalty and a clever set-play. It was great play from them and something we weren’t aware of. At half-time, I said to the boys that we were the better team and we had to stay positive. I told them they would come through this with a result and it will be a point in the season where you go, ‘We didn’t half kick-on from there. Some people may say the sending off changed the game but even if we had kept eleven men on the pitch, the way we were playing, it was only a matter of time before we broke them down,” he admitted. We knew that the next goal after half-time was going to be important: we got it and knew we had the momentum then. Credit to the boys for the character and effort in the team, it was outstanding. It was disappointing the way we conceded the third goal, it’s three set-plays conceded today and something we’ve got to look at. But, even at that point, Parky was telling me that we would be fine and that we would get back into this.”
Possession – 32%/68%
Shots – 8/15
Shots on target – 4/6
Corners – 2/5
Fouls – 19/15