Port Vale v Torquay – full text of my review in The Football League Paper
The League Paper asked me to write 180 words after the Vale game. I got a bit carried away so they had to cut it down, but here’s the unexpurgated text, tapped out hurriedly on my phone at Stoke railway station:
Well it had to happen eventually: Port Vale brought down the curtain on our incredible sequence of clean sheets, which sets a new club record of almost 1,000 minutes without conceding. For a club of our stature it’s an incredible achievement.
We just about deserved the 3 points today; we started explosively, making productive use of Vale’s wide pitch, and finished the match assuredly. However, we were far from being in control of the game as some sloppy midfield passing and a tendency to stand off allowed Port Vale to recover their shape.
Our defence kept us ahead: Scott Bevan was immense and demonstrated his contribution to our amazing run with a series of smart saves and catches, at one point making a Schmeichelesque triple save to keep us in the match. Another rock at the back is the consistently dependable Guy Branston, whose leadership is helping to fill the void left by Chris Hargreaves. Up front, Chris Zebroski’s athleticism and movement will be key this season, particularly given Benyon’s poor showing today.
Looking ahead to our prospects this season, I think we’re good value for a playoff place. Despite continuing our perfect start today, I can see more clinical opposition punishing the lapses in concentration we seem unable to eliminate from our play. Having said that, we’re playing with togetherness and confidence: if Paul Buckle stays and can keep the talented nucleus of the side together, I’m daring to dream that we can go up.