Sheffield United 2 Port Vale 1

Last updated : 23 October 2013 By deadbat_db

United saw off 10 man Port Vale after former Owl Daniel Jones had been sent off for two bookable offences. United went ahead through a Neil Collins header but the Blades should have been out of sight long before Vale levelled just before half time with a freak cross from Yates ending in George Long’s goal. In the second half United struggled to create as many opportunities but gradually they were able to apply more pressure and skipper Michael Doyle scored from a shot from the edge of the box to restore the lead. After this United were able to see things out and in doing do get off the bottom of the league table.

Acting manager, Chris Morgan, made changes from the side that finished so well at Sixfields after starting so poorly. In came two goal Lyle Taylor and Stephen McGinn with Tony McMahon restored at right back. Jose Baxter was out with an injury and there was no place in the match day squad for Ryan Hall. Joining Westlake, Coady, Howard, Lappin and Cuvelier on the bench was fit again Shaun Miller.

Port Vale’s management team was led by former Blades Micky Adams and Robert Page. Vale included the prolific Tom Pope alongside the veteran Lee Hughes. Robertson and Lines both with Sheffield connections also started.

The game began with United starting with a 4-4-2 with Taylor partnering King. United were very much on the offensive and Taylor nearly got on the end of a Collins knock down and then a raft of free kicks and corners saw a number of half chances. Vale had been penalised for a series of offences that led free kicks but Taylor and McMahon twice could not test Neal. Maguire headed wide from a dangerous cross from McGinn. United had been very active in the final third and had penned Vale back who were struggling to keep the score level. The pace of the attacks was far quicker than anything we had seen this season with Brandy and Flynn seeing plenty of the ball.

Eventually the deserved lead came when from a corner kick, the ball bounced around before Collins nodded down and eventually after it bounced through a body of players into the corner via a post. It was a scrappy goal but one United merited and saw COLLINS join Maguire on two goals for the season.

United were dominating and Brandy’s trickery and low sense of gravity was causing all sorts of problems and the winger jinked and then curled just over. Vale had not been in the game at all Loft had a rare chance but was a long way off target. The visitors struggles to get any kind of foot hold in the game was punctuated by a series of fouls and bookings and Jones after already being booked brought down Flynn rather cynically. The second yellow was not a surprise and he trooped off putting Vale in a real hole. Vale’s total lack of professionalism carried on as Myrie Williams was taken off and had a slanging match with manager Adams in full view of the South Stand. Soon after Robertson and Pope clashed with each other and were very fortunate to escape yellow cards. It seemed Vale were the team at the bottom of the league rather than United such was the disarray they were in.

United could not get the second goal despite lots more play in and around the box with Neal looking uncomfortable as he pushed away a speculative effort from Maguire. Then soon after nice link up play involving Hill led to a chance for Taylor but Neal saved from close range. Vale did create a chance when Pope got in but he could not repeat the feat of last season and shot wide after holding off Collins.

United were back on the attack and Flynn fed Taylor whose shot was blocked and drifted out for a corner and then Collins finish from the subsequent corner lacked power and Neal held.

United had been in total control but were stunned just before the break. McMahon was remonstrating over a decision and let YATES receive a quick free kick but the full backs speculative cross was never intended as any kind of shot as it drifted into the far corner of the goal.

The half time whistle was greeted with appreciation from the United crowd despite the late sickener.

After the break United began with a couple of opportunities as Taylor struck a low free kick just wide before Flynn’s effort lacked power to beat Neal. Despite these early chances the game was more even in the opening to the second half and Vale forced a trio of corners as they seemed to be adapting to their numerical disadvantage better. Doyle and McMahon fired badly over before Miller was introduced for King to a large ovation from the home crowd. Hill had a long ranger over as United were now struggling to create meaningful chances.

Vale were more of a threat on the break and another corner saw Robertson head over. The game was drifting into the final 15 minutes when finally United got back in front. Flynn who had been busy second half was involved and eventually the ball found DOYLE who took a touch and drilled low past Neal into the corner.

United had a series of chances to seal the game with McMahon’s low effort parried away rather uncomfortably before Flynn took too long before being denied by the keeper. Then Miller was denied a returning goal as his finish one on one was saved by Neal after good work from Collins.

Westlake came on for Flynn to give United a bit more defensive protection and then Coady replaced Brandy. As the game entered stoppage time, a long ball into the box was cleared by Maguire after Long could not claim and then Coady had an opportunity to seal it but Neal saved again. The final whistle came soon after and United could celebrate that winning feeling again.

United – It was much better today. We began well and created more chances, played higher up the field and were pressing and more committed. The tempo of the game was significantly higher than we have seen since the opening day win. The first half was really good as we pressed Vale back and really forced the initiative with the pace of our attacks at times relentless even if the final ball and chances created were not always clear cut.

I felt at times we made poor decisions in the final third and really should have been more clinical. I had a feeling poor crosses/finishing would cost us and they got level. After this I felt we were not as good and the frail confidence of the side was shown again as the second half was more even and United struggled to get into the vital areas and create as many chances. Despite this over the course of the game Neal must have made 9 or 10 saves (many may have been routine). We had 17 efforts with 9 on target which is significantly more than we have had in most if not all games this season.

It was nice just to see some action and chances. We were not brilliant and at times some of the play and final decisions were really poor. The opposition were woeful much of the game and should have been beaten easily but hung around and got a lucky goal. After this we became more like the poor, clueless side without ideas that we have seen much of the season but got the winner. It was not scintillating but overall a better performance and at least you could say it was a game with things happening and some excitement of some note. We were better and we won. In short this was an improvement and something to build on.

After we went one up and they had the red card; I felt we should have gone on to win convincingly but it became a real struggle after they levelled and the side struggled to get beyond the ten men who packed the middle of the field. When we got it wide we did not get beyond and crossed from way too deep and it meant we kind of become restricted to long range shooting. It was the sort of game Baxter or maybe Cuvelier could have made a difference in terms of threading the needle as it was left to Flynn out wide, Brandy trying to create chances or long rangers from Doyle. I was concerned the game might peter out or even worse the way the season has gone, for Vale to nick it on the break. The second half became scrappy and I was pleased Miller came on to give us a lift. He looked busy but we still were not creating many clear chances. The goal was a real relief when it came and as poor as Doyle had been at least he kept taking responsibility and trying not to hide.

Hopefully now some confidence will be restored. Miller back is a boost and gives some competition. With McGinn improving the midfield, and Baxter, Coady and Cuvelier not starting we may have some completion finally. King needs to get fit as he won’t be much of a factor if he plays like he has the last two games. He has looked slow and disinterested. The full backs are still a concern both defensively and going forward but at least the centre backs were better today (albeit against two slow and immobile players – Peterborough will give much more of a threat in the week with power and pace akin to Coventry’s front two). Nice to get off the bottom and hopefully something to build on but we have a really tough game in the week. Anything we get is a bonus. By next Saturday we hopefully will have the new manager in. All signs still point to it being Clough (watched next Saturday’s opponents yesterday) but it does need to be sorted sooner rather than later preferably.

Port Vale – Thought they were a really poor side. I felt this last year in the cup and today I saw nothing different. Of course they are higher in the league and have had a better start but as pessimistic as I am; I would be flabbergasted if we finished below them despite Adams comments about us being a poor side. If we are poor then I am not sure what that makes them. In fact I will put my neck on the line as say I think they may go down. They were not only poor in general play (even before the red card we dominated) but they were totally undisciplined with players arguing with manager/coaches and each other! However they must have been doing something right so far this season. I look at their side and as bad as some of our players are; they are a real mixed bag of journeyman and lower division players with no real stand outs. Pope scored a lot of goals but was quiet today. Hughes will always nick the odd goal but looks nearly done and spends most of the game complaining and trying to referee. They had a number of big, robust players that often were overly aggressive but this approach has worked for them, to get promotion and be mid way in the league so far. The keeper made a number of saves, some decent, most you would expect to save but never looked totally convincing and his handling was not the best. He was left badly exposed though and if United had been 3 up at half time you could not have argued.

Fair play second half as they re grouped and actually made a real game of it and had a few half chances and corners. They maybe thought they had done enough as they restricted our chances but the goal came and was fair on reflection of the whole game. If they had taken a point it would have been undeserved after they had been given a working over first half. The goal was also incredibly fortunate and maybe they only real shot on target they had all game (stats said 3 but I can’t remember the other two?).

Long 6/10 – I heard a few people blame him for the goal but not sure what he could have done. It went right into the top corner and I felt he had little chance. In the rest of the game he did not have that much to do. Second half he bizarrely went with his feet when he could have caught and a few other less than convincing punch attempts meant like his counterpart Neal, he did not have his most comfortable afternoon albeit it he was the least troubled of the two.

McMahon 5.5/10 – A really frustrating player to say the least. Quite hard to like him as he really is a niggly so and so who spends more time moaning and complaining than just playing football. On the goal he was arguing when they got it and scored. Second half he too was guilty of trying to wind up the man rather than get on with the game. His free kicks were not of usual standard today and he also was wasteful when he did get in forward positions and often made the wrong decisions or put in poor crosses/shots. Sadly for all above he is still preferable to Westlake.

Hill 6/10 – As above he kind of starts by default as all the other left backs are even worse! He is clumsy and poor in possession. When he does go forward he is very predictable and he often puts the same high, flighted cross in that often drifts away or straight into the keepers hands. He did ok defensively and I suppose at least he did get forward and try and support the attack. He was better than last week.

Maguire 7/10 – He was better today but obviously playing against a much weaker forward line than Coventry’s. He was on the front foot and I felt both him and Collins attacked the ball more and were not waiting. I will temper any praise with the obvious fact they only had 1 direct up top for long spells so did not have to play much but it was nice that he came out and tried to attack. He had 2 or 3 efforts on goal today.

Collins 7/10 – Scored a header; albeit scrappy but he got it on target which of course all you can ask. His defensive player, like Maguire’s was far better as United were on the front foot and he was a big part of that as he came out of defence, won the first ball and was generally more dominating than he has been all season.

Doyle 5.5/10 – I felt he was pretty abject most of the game. Misplaced passes, bad touches and some awful shooting. He then scored and everything was forgotten! He had a number of sighters to score but was nowhere near on most until he finally kept one down. He got the winner so his mark moves up slightly but it did mask another poor performance really. I would have actually taken him off as we needed more attacking impetus (maybe brought Coady on) but then he scored! He seemed to have a bit of a go at the crowd by cupping his ears as he celebrated after a few groans at his poor play earlier in the game. His shooting up to that point had been shocking but I suppose he at least kept having a go!

Flynn 6.5/10 - He was busy throughout and I felt at least tried to be a threat even if his final product often petered out. Still came inside too often. To be fair in the second half he saw a lot of the ball and got down the wing a lot. His choices when he got into good positions were not the best with some poor crosses and weak shots punctuating some decent build up work. At least second half he was lively and did get on the ball and try and make something happen.

McGinn 7/10 – I quite like him. He is neat and tidy and generally keeps the ball well. I know he had a poor game at Brentford but after his decent game v Notts County, I think he has been very unfortunate to not get more starts in such a poor team/season so far. His corners were a mixed bag today and most were poor (after saying how good they were last week) with many not beating first man.

Brandy 7.5/10- He was a threat all game with his close control and trickery. His final product was not always the best and that is one knock on his game. It has been an issue all season as he has rarely made a goal or scored one. Also he seems to struggle to stay on his feet (sometimes diving ridiculously and other times his boots seemed like ice skates) – his choice of studs was clearly wrong.

King 3/10 – Thought he was our worst player today and never in the game. The ball did not stick at all and he looked slow and disinterested. He looks way off the pace and is clearly unfit. He could have gone off a long time before he did. Needs to sharpen up as Miller now will be banging on the door for a start.

Taylor 7/10 – Unlike King he put lots and lots of effort in. He never hides and does work extremely hard. He had a few half chances and at times his touch was mixed but he will probably get some goals just through sheer effort and persistence. He does not to get physically stronger though as often gets pushed out of it a little too easily.


Miller – Looked busy. Needs more games of course. Should have scored with a good chance but keeper saved well. Linked well with others. Hopefully start on Tuesday.

Westlake – Came on at end to protect right hand side.

Coady – Had one chance at death as he came on in stoppage time.

Morgan rating 7/10 – He brought in Taylor and McGinn after they changed the game last week and he made sure we were at it from the off today. There was a huge difference between the game last week where we were on the defensive at the beginning. Morgan made sure we were on the front foot and faced with lesser pace he made sure each compartment of the team played 5-10 yards higher up. We pressed more and were generally more urgent and showed greater desire. After we went one up and they had the red card; I felt we should have gone on to win more but

Officials – Referee: Tim Robinson. Not easiest game to referee due to a number of niggly fouls and some that were more than niggly and quite cynical. The red card for me was obvious. He had already been booked rightly and then the second he dragged his boot down Flynn’s calf. It was moronic so early in the game and made a hard job even harder. Vale fans mocked some of his decisions and whilst they could maybe query a few of them a lot of them were right. In short Vale were filthy most of the game. I heard many around me refer to them as a ‘set of animals’ such was their overly physical approach. They were the same last year in the cup and they got three (four with red) bookings and should have been many more. Hughes was taken off before he was sent off.

Crowd/Atmosphere – The crowd was boosted a little (not by as much as the club maybe would have hoped) by the season ticket offer. Vale brought around a 1,000 fans which was considerably less than last year in the cup but they were quite noisy (although many outside seemed a little worse for wear and almost spoiling for a scrap – same as last year – do they have a known ‘hooligan’ following amongst them?). It was a better atmosphere than it has been with the negativity of games when Weir was here; especially towards the end of the tenure; removed. The crowd just seemed buoyed by seeing some passion and chances. The football as not brilliant but we actually had lots of attacks and some chances. That was more than we had seen. Second half things became a bit nervy as poor decisions and choices led to some frustration but overall the crowd were supportive and tried to will United to victory.