Date: 17th October 2017 at 10:19pm
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Port Vale`s season started promisingly enough when they won their opening fixture away from home at Crawley on August 5th by three goals to one. Since then, however, the wheels have well and truly fallen off the Burslem team`s juggernaut and they didn`t win another league match until last Saturday, when they overcame Cheltenham at Vale Park by the same score. The man who was Manager at the start of this term`s campaign – Michael Brown – was sacked by the club on September 16th and the club have finally persuaded ex-player Neil Aspin to leave Gateshead in the National League to team-up again with his own Manager during many of his extraordinary 410 games for the Potteries club, John Rudge. The latter is now the Valiant`s Director of Football but Aspin is firmly in the hot seat and seems to have few illusions about the task that confronts him to get Vale away from the bottom of the League Two table:

‘We’re in the mire and we need to get out of it” he said when he first got the job.”We’re at the bottom of the Football League. It’s a massive job and I’m not shying away from it. It’s a step into the frying pan. I know it’s a risk. I could have stayed and managed in non-league football a lot longer. And I know how long managers tend to last in the Football League. But it was a challenge I couldn’t turn down.”

The new Manager seemed to be starting on a high when his new charges took the lead in his first game in charge against Grimsby two weeks ago. But the Mariners rallied and came from behind to win 1-2 at Vale Park. Following the win in his second game, though, Port Vale arrived at the Globe Arena tonight three places and five points worse off than their hosts.

Having won at rock-bottom Chesterfield last Saturday, Manager Jim Bentley was determined that his Morecambe players would put in an even more positive display tonight than they did in Derbyshire, when the boss criticised them for a lack of commitment and determination in the second half of the game.

No doubt cranked-up right from the start by their Manager, the Shrimps took the game to the visitors right from the off tonight. Vale defender Tom Anderson did well to clear a dangerous ball from Adam McGurk which seemed to be about to set-up Vadaine Oliver after five minutes. Port goalkeeper Kelle Roos then did well to deny Steven Old after twelve minutes and did even better to punch a long-range volley from McGurk away from the danger zone after just over a quarter of an hour. Against the run of play, though, Vale took the lead after eighteen minutes when Ben Whitfield made progress down their left flank and swung over a cross which an unchallenged Tom Pope headed easily past Barry Roche to put the visitors ahead on the night. The goal put a spanner in the Morecambe works and they lost the momentum they had been building and Port could have gone further ahead when a cross from Marcus Harness took a deflection after 27 minutes and almost ended-up in the home team`s net. Four minutes later, Tyler Denton tried an audacious chip which only just cleared the Shrimps` crossbar and the half ended with the visitors also having the final chance when David Worrall found himself in the clear but hit his shot straight at Barry Roche.

Worrall started the first half the way he had ended the first when he hit the Morecambe post after just two minutes of the second period with a shot which curled round the Morecambe goalkeeper and as the Valiants dominated the play, the same player drew a fantastic save from Baz with a deflected shot after 62 minutes. Then it was Whitfield`s turn again four minutes later as he cut inside Aaron McGowan and unleashed a shot which also went straight at the goalkeeper. With another goal seeming almost inevitable, Pope clocked-up his second on the night and his fifth goal in the last three games after sixty-seven minutes after beating three or possibly even four Shrimps` defenders and then audaciously lobbing the ball over Roche. At the other end, Roos earned his corn after 71 minutes with a fabulous save from Garry Thompson, somehow or other scooping a shot which seemed to be nestling in the back of the net over the bar instead. Port Vale continued to push for a third goal however and it arrived shortly after Christian Montano appeared on the pitch: he wrapped-up a convincing win for the visitors in injury time as Pope turned provider and slipped a low cross right into the danger area which the substitute turned into the net as home defenders were again found wanting.

This was a significant win for Vale who now have two clean sheets and six goals scored in their last two matches. For Morecambe, it was equally significantly worrying. The team were outplayed and outfought tonight and never looked like recovering as soon as they fell behind. With Forest Green Rovers and Chesterfield both winning away from home this evening, there are now a mere five points between the Shrimps and the bottom club and four between them and Forest Green, who they play in Gloucestershire in just over a week. The win pushes Port Vale onto the Shrimps` coat-tails, just two points and one position beneath them in twenty-second place.

Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 5 Steven Old; 2 Aaron McGowan; 22 Max Muller (24 Michael Rose 54 mins); 14 Luke Conlan; 8 Andy Fleming (21 Elliot Osborne 83 mins); 4 Alex Kenyon (C); 7 Garry Thompson; 18 Rhys Turner (10 Adam Campbell 42 mins); 28 Adam McGurk; 9 Vadaine Oliver.

Subs Not Used: 12 Danijel Nizic; 15 Aaron Wildig; 17 Mitchell Lund; 16 Sam Lavelle.

Port Vale: 34 Kelle Roos; 21 James Gibbons; 24 Nathan Smith; 4 Tom Anderson (Y); 33 Gavin Gunning; 3 Tyler Denton (32 Michael Tonge 45 mins); 10 David Worrall; 8 Danny Pugh (C); 31 Ben Whitfield (14 Tyrone Barnett 83 mins); 7 Marcus Myers-Harness (11 Christian Montano 89 mins); 9 Tom Pope.

Subs not used: 23 Ryan Boot; 5 Joe Davis; 6 Anthony Kay; 19 Dan Turner.
Ref: Ross Joyce.