*UPDATED* Vale Park, home of Port Vale is the second highest ground in The Football League, and I`m left wondering whether the height factor played a part in our dismal performance this afternoon? The straws have been clutched! Having said that, we weren`t great in the air either!
Well, it always happens. I go away, and we get beat. A regular occurrence for me when following The Mighty is to watch them battle and come away with nothing. Unfortunately, today was no exception. Simon Grayson`s side, cheered on by the fantastic support to the managements far left behind the far goal, battled well for long periods, but lacked ideas and attacking penetration all game.
The day was looking promising to start with. We only temporary found ourselves (Me and the Ed) lost in the car, and when we arrived had one of the nicest burgers I`ve ever tasted at a football match. Of course, the sun was also shining! Speaking to fans leading up to this game, everyone seemed very confident we could pick up points, as we always do at Vale Park. (Guess what. I wasn`t there Boxing Day last term!)
The Seasiders started with a 4-4-2, with Marc Joseph coming in for skipper Michael Jackson and new signing Claus Jorgensen playing at the expense of Marcus Bean. Wes Hoolahan also started after his heart scare last week.
The early running was made by the hosts Port Vale. A period of domination saw loan signing Stefan Moore (surely he`s better than this division?) come close, along with the very effective Jeff Smith also test Blackpool keeper Rhys Evans. Both sides wasted good opportunities to deliver balls in the box from set plays, until Vale finally found a man in the area right on the stroke of the break. That man was Leon Constantine, who rarely misses from six yards. The last five minutes a the half yet again. It seems the lads switch off when they see the clock go past 15:40. Half Time: Port Vale 1 – 0 Blackpool.
Simon Grayson was quick to identify the biggest weakness in the side (although it wasn`t a hard one to spot), Paul Tierney, and hauled him off at half time for Danny Coid, who impressed me at Left Back in the second period. Former Macclesfield Town man Danny Whittaker came close after the break when his header was smartly saved by Evans in the Blackpool goal. Simon Gillett then wasted a glorious chance from 20 yards – firing a free kick straight into the away support. Let me raise a question. Do we have a designated free kick taker? Actually, two questions. Do we practise free kicks in training? If the answer is no to either of these questions then why not? We wasted several good chances at set plays to exert pressure on Vale. If our set pieces had been good enough, we may have snatched a point, or maybe all three.
We had a very good shout for a penalty after an hour when Marc McGregor seemed to handball, but the officials were having none of it. Then came the changes. Keigan Parker on for Scotty Vernon and Big Ben Burgess replacing Claus Jorgensen. Andy Morrell briefly filled the right hand side of midfield. I say briefly because we conceded again. Shaun Barker slipped and let in Akpo Sodje – brother of Sam and Efe, along with the rest of them plying their trade in the various leagues, who let fly past Evans in Pools` goal. The keeper was beaten at his near post – although the blame ultimately will go to Barker. Late in the game Keith Southern bundled in from a corner (the only set piece to trouble Vale all game), but it was too little too late.
Rhys Evans – 6
Looked shakey today for me. Did pull of some good stops.
Marc Joseph – 5
Poor. Distribution was shocking.
Paul Tierney – 4
Looked like a Hendry signing today. Awful.
Shaun Barker – 6
Would have been a 7 if he hadn’t gifted Sodje a goal. Did Ok.
Ian Evatt – 6
Again, did alright. Won some headers, did the simple stuff well.
Simon Gillett – 6
Can he cross? Not from what I saw today! Did well until final product.
Wes Hoolahan – 7
Tricky, but no end product. Was the pick of the bunch.
Claus Jorgensen – 6
Came in and out of the game. When in, good. When not, evidently not.
Keith Southern – 7
Captian today. Was one of the few that played well.
Scott Vernon – 6
What can he do with no service?
Andy Morrell – 5
Missed an easy chance late on, wasn’t great.
Not good enough. Poor performance on Saturday from nearly everyone – Hoolahan, Gillett and Southern apart. We seem to have a very good squad – as the chairman rightly points out, but the management don`t seem to know what to do with them – and that includes Parkes and Thompson, as it`s a team effort.
We lacked penetration going forward again, and for all the good work the two wingers did, there was never an end product. The two front men, especially in the first half, were extremely isolated. Claus Jorgensen clearly wasn`t match fit and I think he did well to last an hour. He was in and out of the game. When in it, he looked a quality signing. When he wasn`t, he seemed exhausted and a passenger.
Paul Tierney was awful. Was at fault for the first. He should have met the ball before the bounce but (and this happened a lot with everyone) he waited for it, ended up misjudging it, and subsequently Vale scored a soft goal. As was Joseph. We`re struggling in the full back area. Danny Coid was the best performer out of the three that played today, and he was “out of position”. For me, he`s a right back.
The first goal was a soft one, but the timing of it is becoming a regular occurrence. Just before the break, or in the last 5 minutes of a half. That brings me nicely on to raising a question about Grayson`s position as manger. I`ve said it before, and I`ll say it again – is he the right man for the job? For me, the answer is no. Granted, he can bring players in, but can he do anything with them? It seems not.
He wants to be judged after 10 games. That now looks to be a stupid comment to make. Can he turn it around in 3 games?