Port Vale: Adams relieved to end poor run of results
THE scenes at the final whistle could have told the tale all on their own.
While there were high fives and hugs among the players, more than 1,000 visiting fans raised a fitting salute.
You could almost hear the sigh of relief from the black and white half of directors' box too.
Indeed, chairman Paul Wildes and chief executive Norman Smurthwaite soon joined the party at one end of the ground by leaving their seats to celebrate with those delighted supporters.
Everyone, it seemed, knew just how important this result was for Port Vale.
A run of four defeats in five games must have left manager Micky Adams wondering where his team's next win would come from.
So it was understandable that the Vale boss was beaming after his side picked up what he described as 'a massive' victory.
"After the run we've had, my immediate emotion was more relief than anything else," he admitted.
"It was a real battling performance and I was delighted with the players.
"We worked hard on a difficult surface and did all the right things at the right times.
"Three points is important at any level, but this was a big result for everybody."
An early goal from Jennison Myrie-Williams, who went on to miss a penalty, was doubled up by Lee Hughes at the start of the second half.
And Vale were never truly troubled by a woeful York side whose last win was back on New Year's Day.
"We scored two good goals and it could have been more comfortable," said Adams, who had to change his side just before kick-off.
Dan Jones was named in the starting XI, after coming back from a knee injury. But he pulled up during the warm-up and a quick reshuffle was required.
"We were up against it in many respects," added the Vale boss. "Dan trained yesterday and we thought we'd throw him in.
"But he didn't feel right in the warm-up so it was best not to play him.
"Richard Duffy went down with a virus on Friday, while suspensions to Doug Loft and Sam Morsy also hurt us a little bit.
"We only brought 18 with us so we couldn't effectively fill the bench.
"But some of those who played were outstanding. Anthony Griffith and Chris Birchall particularly and Rob Taylor came in (for Jones) and did a sterling job at left-back."
York's antiquated stadium and their awful glue-pot of a pitch, which resembled Derby's Baseball Ground of the 1970s, promised to be a real leveller.
Yet Vale took the game to Nigel Worthington's strugglers from the very start.
The visitors had already been pressing, and had half-hearted appeals for a penalty waved away, before they took a deserved lead after only eight minutes.
Myrie-Williams, restored to the side on the left, found a surprising amount of space beyond halfway and simply ran with the ball to the edge of the penalty area. He was finally closed down, but by then it was too late.
For the winger pulled the trigger to devastating effect, sending his left-foot shot from just inside the box arrowing across keeper Michael Ingram and into the far corner.
His first goal since early January was precisely the early boost Adams, and indeed his team, would have been hoping for and it set them up nicely for the result they needed so badly.
Birchall, making his second successive start, was soon pulling strings in the centre of midfield and with minder Griffith alongside him making sure nothing moved without his say so, the Valiants looked a solid unit. Birchall's delivery from set-pieces was causing hearts to flutter in the York rearguard and the home side could do little but clear their lines, only for the ball to come back again soon after.
Louis Dodds, brought into the team on the right, then made a 21st-minute clearance which turned into a great ball for Hughes.
The striker streaked clear of the City defence and let fly with a volley. But just when you expected the net to billow, the ball whistled just the wrong side of the post.
Vale continued to hold the upper hand and should have doubled their advantage after 27 minutes.
Birchall was involved again as the bobbling ball ran for Hughes and the front man was sent tumbling as he shaped to shoot.
But Myrie-Williams's weak penalty was comfortably saved by Ingram.
Little had been seen of York as an attacking threat, but Scott Kerr nearly put them level on the half-hour.
He cracked a 25-yard effort towards the top corner, forcing Vale keeper Chris Neal to spring spectacularly to his left to make the save.
Ashley Chambers was horribly high and wide with a first-time shot when he had time to take a touch, but Vale were pressing again before the break.
Myrie-Williams, the goal seeming to have had a massive effect on his confidence, headed a loose ball past his marker before launching a stinging shot from 25 yards that Ingram did very well to keep out.
While Vale were obviously the better side, there was still only one goal in it after the break, but that was soon to change.
Tom Pope held the ball up well and turned to deliver an inch-perfect through-ball into the path of Myrie-Williams.
The winger looked up to see Hughes racing in at the far post and his first-time delivery was straight into the striker's path.
Hughes needed no second invitation, ramming his shot into the net and celebrating in typical style right in front of the massed ranks behind that goal.
It looked like game over only three minutes into the second half and York, struggling for confidence and lacking quality, had little in response.
While Liam Chilvers was forced to make an important clearance, and Chris Smith headed only a foot over the Vale bar from a corner, Neal remained largely untroubled throughout a second half which failed to match the first, either for quality or incident.
Pope robbed the hapless Jamal Fyfield and was only inches away from being through on goal as Hughes's return pass was just intercepted.
And substitute Ben Williamson was unlucky when his rasping drive from just inside the penalty area clattered into the legs of the fortunate Smith, with Ingram looking beaten.
But there were no alarms at the other end and an important victory was in the bag.
While three points won't solve every problem at a stroke, they certainly brought back the feel-good factor which could be so crucial for the promotion run-in.
Seven games to go. Bring them on.