Chesterfield 2-2 Port Vale – League 2

ProactPV

On Monday 1st April, I went to the Proact Stadium to watch Chesterfield play Port Vale in League 2.

After a couple of weeks off, a period which included a postponed home fixture against Plymouth Argyle, we were back at the Proact Stadium for this Easter Monday game against Port Vale. While Chesterfield’s hopes of a top seven place this season was fading fast, the Valiants looked well on their way to promotion. The visitors sat in second place, having won their last two games, and although they were still six points behind league leaders Gillingham, Vale looked to be within touching distance of League 1. Chesterfield had gone on a good run of form themselves in recent weeks, winning four of their last six matches and conceding just three goals in the process. However, inconsistency earlier in the season had cost the Spireites as they sat seven points behind the play off spots with just six games remaining.

We arrived at the stadium at the same time as the Port Vale players coach pulled up. I watched the team make their way to the players entrance and got photos with manager Micky Adams, coach and former Chesterfield player Rob Page and Tom Pope ahead of the game.

Spireites boss Paul Cook named the same starting 11 that had defeated Burton Albion a couple of days earlier, a team which included former Port Vale striker Marc Richards who moved to the Proact Stadium in the Summer after spending five years with the Valiants. Amongst the Vale line up was League 2 Player of the Year and the divisions leading scorer Tom Pope, who had already bagged an incredible 28 goals in this campaign. Micky Adams made three changes from the side that had beaten Cheltenham Town 3-2 in their previous game with Darren Purse, Doug Loft and Calvin Andrew replacing John McCombe, Louis Dodds and Lee Hughes.

A couple of thousand supporters had made the trip from Burslem and it wasn’t long before they were given something to shout about as Vale got off to the perfect start. In the 5th minute, Darren Purse got on the end of Jennison Myrie-Williams’ corner and powerfully headed the ball past the goalkeeper to put the away side ahead.

But just nine minutes later parity was restored by Marc Richards. The former Vale striker’s free kick took a wicked deflection off the wall, leaving hapless goalkeeper Chris Neal with no chance as the ball flew into the net to level the score at 1-1. And the tables were quickly turned as Richards again found the net in the 19th minute to put the Spireites ahead. Jay O’Shea’s effort was parried straight in to the path of the striker, who fired home from a tight angle.

It was an action packed contest with chances for both sides. Vale’s best opportunity fell to Doug Loft, who came just a whisker away from levelling the game once again but the 26 year old somehow managed to fire the ball over the crossbar from just yards out.

The same player was gifted another opportunity early in a second period that was mostly dominated by the visitors. Loft was played through on goal by a nicely weighted header but his lobbed effort harmlessly hit the roof of the net.

As the pressure from Port Vale increased, Paul Cook decided to switch to a 4-4-2 formation with Armand Gnanduillet replacing Jay O’Shea as the Spiretes looked to put the game to bed. The Ivorian striker came close to putting distance between the two sides shortly after his introduction, as he turned past a couple of players before firing just wide of the target.

An instinctive save from Tommy Lee kept the Spireites ahead after Loft once again came close for Vale, sending a powerful first time volley goalwards.

But with just 5 minutes to play, Pope snatched a point for the Valiants. Chris Shuker put a dangerous cross in to the box and League 2’s top scorer sent a weak header past Lee to grab his 29th goal of the season and send the away fans wild.

It was a disappointing end to the game for the Spireites, but on reflection a draw was probably a fair result with both sides having plenty of opportunities during the 90 minutes. The draw meant Vale remained in second place, three points clear of fourth spot while Chesterfield are now six points behind the play offs with five games to go – a big task even for a team hitting a good run of form at this late stage of the season.

After the match, I met Vale coach Mark Grew as well as goalscorer Darren Purse, Trinidad and Tobago international Chris Birchall and Calvin Andrew before heading home.

Chesterfield 22 Port Vale

Purse ‘5, Richards ’14 ’19, Pope ’85

Lee, Trotman, Brindley, Cooper (Hird ’39), Townsend, Darikwa, Togwell, Randall, Talbot, O’Shea (Gnanduillet ’60), Richards (Lester ’75)
Neal, Yates, Purse, Chilvers, Jones, Taylor (Birchall ’37), Griffith (Williamson ’64), Loft, Myrie-Williams, Pope, Andrew (Shuker ’64)
 
Attendance: 6,669
Port Vale manager Micky Adams

Port Vale manager Micky Adams

Vale coach and former Spireite Rob Page

Vale coach and former Spireite Rob Page

The home players warm up

The home players warm up

Jay O'Shea warms up

Jay O’Shea warms up

Sam Togwell and Marc Richards

Sam Togwell and Marc Richards

Snow at pitchside in April!

Snow at pitchside in April!

Chester and a few young Spireites carry flags around the pitch

Chester and a few young Spireites carry flags around the pitch

The Port Vale mascot waves at the home supporters

The Port Vale mascot waves at the home supporters

The two mascots shake hands

The two mascots shake hands

A packed away end on Bank Holiday Monday

A packed away end on Bank Holiday Monday

The two teams make their way onto the pitch

The two teams make their way onto the pitch

Pre-match handshakes

Pre-match handshakes

The Vale players prepare for kick off

The Vale players prepare for kick off

The game gets underway

The game gets underway

The home dugout

The home dugout

The away dugout

The away dugout

Darren Purse celebrates his early headed goal

Darren Purse celebrates his early headed goal

The travelling supporters celebrate

The travelling supporters celebrate

Purse is the scorer

Purse is the scorer

The Chesterfield players celebrate Marc Richards' equaliser

The Chesterfield players celebrate Marc Richards’ equaliser

The Spireites defend a set piece

The Spireites defend a set piece

Richards makes it 2-1

Richards makes it 2-1

Two goals from former Vale striker Marc Richards put Chesterfield 2-1 ahead

Two goals from former Vale striker Marc Richards put Chesterfield 2-1 ahead

A quick start to the game

A quick start to the game

The players head to the dressing room at the interval

The players head to the dressing room at the interval

Drew Talbot charges forward

Drew Talbot charges forward

Richards receives treatment

Richards receives treatment

Richards waits to get back amongst the action

Richards waits to get back amongst the action

The supporters watch the game in the spring sunshine

The supporters watch the game in the spring sunshine

Match action

Match action

The sun shines over the stadium

The sun shines over the stadium

Purse keeps an eye Richards

Purse keeps an eye Richards

Trinidad and Tobago international Chris Birchall

Trinidad and Tobago international Chris Birchall

Townsend and Trotman desperatley defend for Chesterfield

Townsend and Trotman desperatley defend for Chesterfield

The packed away stand

The packed away stand

Vale search for an equaliser

Vale search for an equaliser

Armand Gnanduillet joins the game on the hour

Armand Gnanduillet joins the game on the hour

Talbot and Myrie-Williams

Talbot and Myrie-Williams

Gnanduillet and Purse

Gnanduillet and Purse

Chris Shuker

Chris Shuker

Battling for possession

Battling for possession

Jack Lester replaces Richards

Jack Lester replaces Richards

Sam Hird marks Tom Pope

Sam Hird marks Tom Pope

The goalkeeper catches a cross

The goalkeeper catches a cross

Tom Pope heads home an equaliser

Tom Pope heads home an equaliser

The striker injures himself in the process of scoring

The striker injures himself in the process of scoring

The Vale players warm down

The Vale players warm down

Taking the camera equipment away after the game

Taking the camera equipment away after the game

Assistant manager Mark Grew

Assistant manager Mark Grew

Lee Hughes

Lee Hughes

Darren Purse

Darren Purse

Chris Birchall

Chris Birchall

Calvin Andrew

Calvin Andrew

The players get on the coach

The players get on the coach

 

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