REPORT | ARGYLE 0 PORT VALE 2
Port Vale 2
Wilson 65, 70
Two second-half goals in the space of five minutes from Port Vale striker James Wilson finally ended Argyle’s amazing 100% record at Home Park.
The Pilgrims had chances on the night, Ryan Hardie and Niall Ennis both going close, but it was one of those games when nothing bounced in favour of the Greens.
Argyle’s James Wilson, Niall Ennis and Ryan Hardie all returned to the side after the 13-day Sky Bet League One break since a 2-2 draw at Burton, with the Valiants also enjoying the same extended refresh following their 1-0 defeat of Charlton.
The Greens conjured the first chance at a packed Home Park, as Joe Edwards helped shift the ball wide for a dangerous low cross by Macaulay Gillesphey, cleared at the far post. The subsequent corner dropped to Bali Mumba on the edge of the box but his deflected shot was comfortable for Vale ‘keeper Jack Stevens.
The visitors responded with a rasping 25-yard drive from Daniel Butterworth, brilliantly palmed wide by Mike Cooper, as Vale settled into their surroundings with a decent spell of possession. Butterworth had a second bite, cutting in from the left for a tight-angle effort blocked by Cooper.
Ben Garrity was next to have a pop for Vale, working himself into space for a low drive held by Cooper. Argyle came back with some clever work releasing Hardie for a deflected cross fielded by Stevens.
An even game almost presented the Greens with a gift when Stevens slipped as he struck a clearance but he recovered to thwart the lingering Morgan Whittaker. The Pilgrims were turning the screw, Hardie prevented from shooting by a last-ditch tackle.
A sweeping Argyle move saw Mumba and Ennis exchange passes before the sprightly wing-back fired inches wide, quickly followed by a superb cover tackle from James Wilson at the other end. The half concluded with a deflected strike from Ennis blocked by Stevens and Hardie fired the rebound over the bar.
The Greens restarted in similar fashion, working the ball down the left for a Gillesphey cross claimed by Stevens before Cooper copied the trick with a dominant catch from Gavin Massey’s whipped delivery.
After a two-month injury absence, Danny Mayor returned to action as a replacement for Hardie on the hour but it was Vale celebrating minutes later, as a corner from David Worrall was nodded down by Nathan Smith and the ball flicked off Wilson for the opening goal.
Within five minutes, Argyle’s pain was doubled. Nigel Lonwijk was receiving treatment for a knock and Vale took full advantage, shifting the ball to the left for a cutback to Wilson, who took a touch and slid a low finish into the far bottom corner.
Brendan Galloway replaced the stricken Lonwijk and the Pilgrims were so unlucky in their pursuit of an equaliser. Ennis spun on the edge of the box for a drilled shot against the post, the rebound was returned to Ennis but he scooped over from close range.
Sam Cosgrove and Mickel Miller replaced Mumba and Whittaker, as the Valiants set up camp to protect their lead. Some Mayor magic created room for a drilled Miller cross that bounced off Stevens but Ennis was unable to steer his rebound header past the visiting custodian.
A terrific clipped cross from Adam Randell found Galloway for a half-volley that clearly struck a Vale hand but referee John Busby waved away the penalty claims. It was a decision that possibly summed up Argyle’s night.
Ennis was denied by another desperate Vale block after an Edwards’ cross, with the subsequent corner bouncing around the box before a goal-line hack clear from Smith. Argyle were understandably throwing men forward and Cooper found another super save to deny Dennis Politic from a swift break.
The pursuit of a goal continued to the end for Argyle but there was no reward.
Argyle: 1 Mike Cooper; 3 Macaulay Gillepshey, 4 Jordan Houghton, 5 James Wilson, 8 Joe Edwards (capt), 9 Ryan Hardie (10 Danny Mayor 60), 11 Niall Ennis, 17 Bali Mumba (14 Mickel Miller 76), 19 Morgan Whittaker (16 Sam Cosgrove 76), 20 Adam Randell, 21 Nigel Lonwijk (22 Brendan Galloway 72). Substitutes (not used): 25 Callum Burton (capt), 7 Matt Butcher, 48 Freddie Issaka.
Booked: Lonwijk 61
Port Vale: 25 Jack Stevens; 3 Dan Jones, 5 Connor Hall, 6 Nathan Smith, 7 David Worrall (2 Lewis Cass 85), 8 Ben Garrity, 9 James Wilson (21 Mipo Odubeko, 85), 10 Tom Conlon (capt), 11 Mal Benning (15 Will Forrester 82), 19 Gavin Massey, 26 Daniel Butterworth (33 Dennis Politic 69). Substitutes (not used): 1 Aiden Stone, 17 Rory Holden, 23 Tom Pett.
Booked: Stevens 56, Politic 90
Attendance: 15,633 (400 away)
Referee: John Busby