Match report: Port Vale 3, Burton Albion 0
PORT Vale's players proved they aren't ready to let their season peter out with a 3-0 home victory over Burton Albion last night.
Yesterday's application by Stoke-on-Trent City Council for the club to be placed into administration is set to see the Valiants deducted 10 points. That would leave them 12 adrift of the play-off places.
But despite the tough times at Vale Park, Micky Adams's men showed character to extend their unbeaten run to eight games, courtesy of a Marc Richards strike and Louis Dodds's late double.
Vale's fans were off their seats in the first minute when Chris Shuker almost got on the end of Marshall's wicked set-piece.
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But Burton looked in determined mood as they set out to try to end an 11-match winless run which has put pressure on Brewers boss Paul Peschisolido.
Loanee Lionel Ainsworth looked lively in the opening period, and his trickery earned Rob Taylor a booking when he hauled the winger down.
Ainsworth, who only joined the Brewers earlier in the day, then raced on to Adam Bolder's cut-back, but he couldn't connect properly with his shot, which was comfortably cleared by the returning Lee Collins.
Vale had their first effort on goal on 14 minutes when full-back Doug Loft whipped over a dangerous cross, but Sean Rigg volleyed over.
Burton's diminutive, but quick-footed midfielders were causing the hosts problems with Vale centre-back John McCombe chopping down former Stoke City winger Jimmy Phillips.
Seconds later, Richards – back in the side after missing Saturday's 2-2 draw at Accrington through illness – connected with Paul Marshall's corner, but headed over.
The atmosphere – and the action – fell flat at times as Richards's 25-yard free-kick was deflected to safety.
Rigg then escaped his marker on 29 minutes, but could only volley wide after meeting Loft's centre.
Dodds received possession on the right just after the half-hour mark, before delivering a cross into the path of the onrushing Richards.
But with the 29-year-old poised to pull the trigger, he somehow managed to stumble over the ball and the chance went begging.
Rigg seemed most likely to unlock Burton's defence as he roamed around up front to good affect.
On 38 minutes, he collected a pass and would have broken clear had it not been for a well-timed challenge from Brewers right-back Andy Corbett.
Phillips was on the receiving end of another rash challenge when he was brought down Loft, who was booked. And Phillips joined him in the referee's notebook on 42 minutes for holding back Rigg, which paved the way for Vale to make the breakthrough.
Marshall's set-piece was met by Rigg, whose header was brilliantly palmed away by keeper Ross Atkins.
But Richards was in the right place to convert the rebound from six yards out.
Vale thought they should have been awarded a penalty a minute later when Corbett appeared to handle the ball in the box, but referee Scott Mathieson turned down their appeals.
Former Vale striker Justin Richards had barely figured by the time he volleyed over from 16 yards in the second minute of first-half injury-time.
Buoyed by the goal, Vale came storming out of the traps at the start of the second period.
Dodds ghosted past defensive duo Tony James and Aaron Webster before steering his 12-yard shot just beyond the far right-hand post on 49 minutes.
Dodds fired in another effort minutes later, but this time Atkins easily gathered.
Dodds was enjoying his spell of the game as his excellent through-ball found Rigg in the left channel. But Atkins easily dived on Rigg's poor cross with Marshall lurking.
The Burton keeper had a couple of moments to forget just before the hour mark when he spilled ferocious drives from Shuker and Marshall.
Vale appeared comfortable in defending their lead, but Adams freshened up the side as Sam Morsy and Ben Williamson replaced Rigg and Richards respectively.
Following a brief spell of Burton pressure Loft set Pope free with a superb pass. But the striker was stopped in his tracks by Austin's outstanding covering tackle.
Dodds then came to the fore at the death.
Marshall's 86th-minute free-kick, from the right, appeared to fly straight into the net, but Dodds celebrated as if he had got the slightest of touches on the ball.
But there was no doubt over Dodds's second goal two minutes later. Loft launched his set-piece into the box towards the far right-hand post where Pope headed the ball back across goal into the path of Dodds, who converted from a few yards out.
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