Somebody once said that football is a funny old game.
United produced some of their best football of the season
in Burslem with the hosts being played off the park in a
one sided first 45 minutes. With the diminutive
Daniel Crowley in a false nine role in front of Chris
Maguire and Marvin Johnson wide left, the U's
played fast, slick, exciting football and should have
gone in three or four goals to the good. They were terrific
and Vale could not live with them. Lundstram and Rothwell
dominated the middle of the pitch and Newcastle under Lyme born
Curtis Nelson returned to the side after two months out.
Nelson had seven years at Stoke City. He did well.
Unbeaten at Vale Park all season, the Valiants changed tack
after the break and went route one with 6 ft 5" striker Rigino
Cicilia the focal point for their attacks.Referee Ben Toner
also decided to take centre stage, awarding the Valiants a succession
of free kicks in dangerous areas and from Ryan Taylor's (no not that one)
deep free kick Cicilia volleyed a knock down,low past Eastwood.
Minutes later Toner, in my view, gave a soft penalty decision as Nelson
and Cicilia challenged for another free kick into the area.
Cicilia dramatically and theatrically hit the deck and Taylor
sent Eastwood the wrong way from the resulting pen.
The game had turned on its head.
United were under the cosh and lost the ball in dangerous areas
giving Vale the chance to break and a third goal was coming!
However United arguably had the best chance when T.Roberts
shot straight at Alnwick late on. Roberts could not get the ball
out of his feet.Five minutes after the break Crowley was bearing
down on the Vale goal after a marvellous bit of play from Maguire
but a heavy first touch from the Arsenal youngster,
saw the chance go begging. The returning Sercombe almost
netted twice at the back stick.
The second half was fast and furious with the game
becoming wide open. Eastwood had a rush of blood
in the last minute - scarpering to a loose ball thirty yards
from his goal after spilling a deep centre.
Easty ended up on the left wing with his goal unprotected!
Dunkley managed to nod clear the resulting long range chip.
At the death United conceded another free kick just
outside the area after they lost the ball when attacking.
Luckily it came to nothing.
2-2 was about right but after playing so well for 45 minutes
United will be disappointed. The combination play and inter-passing
between Crowley, Maguire and Johnson was a joy to watch
combined with fast running from Rothwell and Sercombe.
John Lundstram controlled the midfield - passing it for fun.
Much to build on. Millwall visit Grenoble Road next
for a lunchtime kick off (grrrr!).
Anything yellow and blue
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