Question of the WeekWho should start in goal?
|Being and Nothingness|
A Minor Victory
By: Andrew Doherty
THE paint has dried. Nothing to see here. Neither side in today's game has anything to play for. There is no incentive. Loan players will return, and in Butcher Matete's case, he already has. I wish him well. Mr Hurst will have seen enough. We've all seen enough.
Yet like an addict, I'm back at it, tuning into i-Follow and watching a meaningless fixture with Port Vale. So far I've kicked every ball and gone up for every header while watching these games but I can't see that happening today. Let's just hope for an entertaining one.
Town's modified line-up today was: Eastwood - Hendrie, Hewitt, Menayese, Habergham - Scannell, Clifton, Coke, Khouri - Green, Jackson.
Town attacked the Osmond end. The pitch was hard. The ball bounced around like it was on a car park. Copious fouls, poor crosses, misplaced passes … the only bright spot was Port Vale luminous green's shirts. So it went on. This was aimless, pedestrian fare. Town finally had a shot on 23 minutes when Clifton struck a volley but it had no power and went straight to Brown. Port Vale weren't doing much either. Whitehead had a low wide shot on 11 minutes and on 30 minutes Hendrie did well to cut out a low cross. A minute later Port Vale had a throw in their own half. Joyce's terrible pack pass was intercepted by Green who anticipated well and slotted the ball past Brown 1 - 0 to Town. The game went back to being the non-event it had been before. Port Vale had a better spell in the last five minutes of the half. Town's defence repelled an attack on 40 minutes, then Eastwood made a decent save after good work on the right by Worrall led to a cross, turn and shot from Montano. Green was booked after a tussle for the ball with a defender, and shortly after a half of poor quality ended.
A skied clearance by Menayese in Town's box just after the restart put Eastwood under pressure. As Eastwood scrambled, he was fouled, averting the danger. On 46 minutes Scannell saw Clifton moving into the box - corner to Town. From the corner, Port Vale broke. Worrall ran clear. Just Eastwood to beat. Eastwood came out and did well to block Worrall's shot. Town won a corner after a good ball from Hendrie to Green. Nothing came of it. Coke started another attack after good work in midfield. On 53 minutes Legge was booked for a revenge foul on Green. Both teams were playing with more fire and energy. Town were lucky when Habergham struggled with a long ball upfield, grappling with Robinson and not being penalised. On 55 minutes John-Lewis replaced Green. Two minutes later Eastwood was injured in the face after a 50-50 challenge with Rodney. The game was stopped for several minutes, and McKeown had to come on in goal for Town. McKeown was quickly in action as Port Vale won a corner. McKeown caught the cross and quickly released the ball to Hendrie whose forward ball was abject. Jackson had a nice run up the left and crossed to John-Lewis whose flicked header went just over. On 65 minutes another move began with Coke. Jackson and Scannell helped to get the ball in the danger area but Town were unable to finish. Port Vale then went on the attack. Conlon struck a low good shot from outside the box which McKeown did well to save. Hendrie then headed off the line from a Conlon header. Spokes and Pollock came on to replace Scannell and Habergham for Town on 72 minutes. Jackson was pulled back on the by line after a nice pass by Spokes, but underlining Town's inconsistent quality Spokes free-kick was dreadful. Hendrie did well on the right and found John-Lewis but Jackson failed to anticipate John-Lewis's slotted pass. With 11 minutes plus considerable added time for Eastwood's injury, Port Vale won a corner after Menayese headed out. Port Vale pressed. Rodney hit a low shot that beat McKeown but hit the post. McKeown then had to react quickly and make another save. Town were under pressure. On 84 minutes Town finally got possession but instead of slowing things down, a wild switch pass from John-Lewis gave possession back to Port Vale, who then had an appeal for a penalty turned down after Hewitt grappled with Pope. On 86 minutes Hewitt went down after a challenge with Montano, who to the Port Vale player's surprise received a second yellow card and was sent off. Town were hanging on. 8 minutes were added. Port Vale continued to press but on 93 minutes Clifton broke away. It was three against one Port Vale defender. But Clifton seemed to fall over his feet and eventually did get the ball across to Coke with Port Vale players back to defend. Coke's attempt went over the bar. This was a momentary respite as Town tried to defend and control time. Which they did, as the whistle finally went: Town 1 Port Vale 0.
The second half was more competitive than the first but from Town's point of view the performance was devoid of quality apart from Green's finish for the goal, some decent defending at times and some good saves from both Eastwood and McKeown. This game won't live in the memory. On top of that, it counted for nothing. I can't think of anything we learnt today to help us in the future. We're going through the motions now but at least we won today.
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