Port Vale: Big Ben strikes again to earn Vale victory
BEN Williamson's second strike in two days was enough for Vale to overcome a Newcastle Town team featuring nine new players in their starting line-up.
The 22-year-old forward, who signed from the Glenn Hoddle Academy last month, latched on to a cross from Charlie Raglan in the 52nd minute to find the net.
It was Vale who had the better chances, with Town's new goalkeeper Jon Richie earning his side's man-of-the-match award for a string of acrobatic stops.
Anthony Griffith, Justin Richards, Sean Rigg and Doug Loft were all denied by the 22-year-old former Liverpool and Everton trainee in front of a crowd of 1,250 at the Lyme Valley Stadium.
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Evo-Stik Division One South side Castle did not look like a team playing together for the first time and came close themselves through Leon Ashman, with a diving header, and Ashley Miller, who shot over when teed up by Vale youth graduate Anthony Malbon.
Louis Dodds smashed an effort against the crossbar in the closing stages to liven up a second half of few chances as Vale felt the effects of two matches in 48 hours intensive pre-season training under manager Micky Adams.
"In an ideal world we would not have had two games in two days, but with flying to the United States (for a tour on Tuesday) we wanted to get some football under our belts," said Adams, who fielded different line-ups for each half.
"Newcastle were good, very competitive and enthusiastic and, although I thought we were fairly comfortable at the back, I was disappointed with our finishing.
"But we always get a good welcome here, and a decent gate, so it's nice to be back.
"At the end our players were still on the pitch doing extra running because we know it's all about getting ourselves in the best possible shape for when the season starts on August 6."
Castle are now managed by John Diskin following Greg Clowes's and the majority of the squad's departure to Stafford Rangers.
Ian Willis and Kyle Diskin were the only members of last year's team which reached the play-off semi-finals to start yesterday, although Malbon spent time on loan with the club. Malbon, who joined Leek Town from Vale, had been linked with Stockport County, but a trial was scuppered when Ray Mathias was replaced by Dietmar Hammann as manager.
He was joined up front by former Leek striker Ashman.
Former Witton Albion player-boss Dave MacPherson was wearing the captain's armband for the new-look team, with Dave Harper (from Kidsgrove) and Dave Whittaker (from Nantwich) patrolling the back line.
Norton old boy Miller, Kyle Blake, from Nantwich, and Darren Chadwick, from Biddulph Vics, also pulled on Castle shirts for the first time.
Newcastle Town: Richie (Dyson, 63), Willis (Carter, 60), Chadwick (Malloy, 65), Harper (Clarkson, 65), Whittaker (Coleman, 70), MacPherson (Gartside, 70), Diskin (Connor, 60), Miller, Malbon (Williams, 85), Ashman (Sawyer, 60), Blake.
Port Vale (first half): Martin, Yates, Green, Collins, McCombe, Rigg, Morsy, Griffith, J Richards, Loft, Haldane.
Vale (second half): Tomlinson, Raglan, Roe, Collins, Davis, James, Roberts, Dodds, M Richards, Williamson, Taylor.