Port Vale: Ollie Marland goal earns reserves victory over Gateshead
PORT Vale moved to the top of Central League West Division with a 1-0 home victory over previous leaders Gateshead yesterday.
Striker Ollie Marland was the hero of the hour with a 76th-minute strike following good work by substitute Elliott Osbourne.
Coach Mick Ede said: "It was a tough game between two evenly-matched sides.
"We had to work hard for the victory and did better when we just played it short and tidy. Elliott Osbourne did well when he came on, a pair of fresh legs made the difference and he put a great ball in for Ollie."
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Vale had threatened in the second minute, but the Gateshead defence managed to scramble Ryan Lloyd's cross to safety with Marland primed to capitalise.
Jake Fowler, on loan from Middlesbrough, fired a couple of efforts wide for Gateshead, while Vale keeper Ryan Boot had to be alert to deny Ryan McGorrigan's rasping drive.
Dougie Price made a fine last-ditch tackle on McGorrigan and then Liam Henderson shot over the bar as the visitors increased the pressure before the break.
Gateshead continued to press in the second period, with Chris Bush's free-kick being kept out by Boot.
Vale posed their own problems in the attacking third, with Will Whieldon being denied a shot on goal by Jack Lilley's last-gasp intervention.
Gateshead shuffled their pack with a number of substitutions, but it was Ede's tactical masterstroke which eventually unlocked the door for Vale.
Osbourne had only been on the field for 60 seconds when he burst clear down the right and crossed to the near post for Marland to sweep home from six yards out.
Remarkably, it was the first goal Gateshead had conceded in the this league.
The visitors' hopes of building up some momentum in their search for an equaliser was temporarily halted when defender Callum Hope was stretchered off wearing a neck brace following an innocuous-looking challenge.
The match was held up for six minutes, but on the re-start, Osbourne fired over.
Gateshead failed to find a concerted spell of pressure in the closing stages, with McGorringan's cross, which was cleared by Joe Davis, their only real threat.
Port Vale: Boot, Evans, Warner, Pryor, Davis, Price, Croft (Osbourne, 75), Tambini, Marland, Whieldon, Lloyd. Subs not used: Hemmings, Wright, Smith, Davies.
Gateshead: Conor, McGlen, Hope, Ramshaw, Lilley, Bush, Fowler (Luke, 60), Carr (Ravenhill, 60), Henderson (Mole, 60), McGorrigan, Patton (Barton, 68).