After last weeks calamity at AFC Telford I headed for safer grounds in Port Vale for this weekend’s FA Cup fixture. Stevenage were the visitors to Vale Park on this freezing cold Saturday afternoon in North Staffordshire.
An early morning was in the offing as I headed off to meet the Vale players prior to kick off. To my surprise even under fire gaffer Bruno Ribeiro had yet to arrive, giving me the chance to add at him to my ever-growing collection.
My disappointing day was compounded by the poor cheesy chips. I mean grated cheese on what I must say were delicious chips just ruins the show. Having the lid removed from my bottle as my bag was searched was another dampener on proceedings, but I still had 90 minutes of football to go, Vale could still redeem themselves.
Being just a short ride from Stoke meant I had plenty of time to grab a bite before making to five-minute walk back through Burslem. At £6 a ticket my expectations were unusually low, surely a match that would be last in the running order of the FA Cup highlights tomorrow evening?
Unfortunately, I hit the nail on the head. Downbeat, defensive minded, dreary, a terrible affair decided by one piece of class in the first half. Ex-Newcastle defender Remie Streete lingered in the Boro’ box following a succession of corners and nodded in the first and only goal with six minutes remaining in the first half.
There was clear disgust from the home supporters at the performance of several Vale starters. Paulo Tavares looked disinterested until he was withdrawn midway through the second 45. Martin Paterson chased hard, but offered little in the way of attacking intent.
Stevenage looked most likely to grab an equalizer from a set piece, the height of Luke Wilkinson and Jack causing problems in the Vale backline. But one goal was to be enough for the hosts as they progress to Monday evenings second round draw.
So an improvement on last week’s calamity, but a lack of goals still a monumental problem in the ground hopping ambitions. On to next week where I return to my old hunting ground, London Road and Peterborough United.