Gillingham 1-2 Port Vale

Gillingham 1-2 Port Vale

Tom Pope scored his 26th goal of the season and a second goal was credited to debutant Lee Hughes as Vale defeated Gillingham to go top of the League Two table.

In front of a noisy crowd, the Valiants got off to a brilliant start as after just three minutes, Yates’ cross was converted by Pope for his 26th goal of the season…

Micky Adams brought in new signings Darren Purse and Lee Hughes for Joe Davis and last week’s goalscorer Ben Williamson, while Ryan Burge came in for Chris Shuker and Richard Duffy came in for Rob Taylor. Louis Dodds and Sam Morsy failed to even make the squad as Vale rang the changes.

And in front of a noisy crowd, the Valiants got off to a brilliant start as after just three minutes, Yates’ cross was converted by Pope for his 26th goal of the season.

It was real end-to-end stuff as Vale created another chance for Myrie-Williams, who should have done better, and the home side countered with a chance for Kedwell but his header went wide.

Vale made it 2-0 on 20 minutes with a goal that was eventually credited to debutant Lee Hughes, although it looked like an own-goal. However, the Gills hit back with a goal from the edge of the box from the dangerous Kedwell straight from the kick-off.

Hughes was booked as the end-to-end action continued and debutant Darren Purse was making his presence felt as the Gills pressed for an equaliser. Meanwhile, the recalled Ryan Burge was having a good game in the midfield.

For the home side, Myles Weston and Danny Kedwell were both looking dangerous while the long-throws of Chris Whelpdale caused problems, but despite those threats, it was Vale with the advantage at half-time in what was proving to be a great advert for League Two football.

The second-half began with Pope having a flare-up with a Gillingham player as tempers began to fray a little.

The home side were continuing to press, but the Vale backline were standing firm, while with Hughes and Pope linking up well upfront, the Valiants were still looking dangerous on the break.

There was a big let-off for Vale on the hour mark as Weston was sent clear but Weston hesitated and the chance was wasted. That prompted a double change by Gills boss Martin Allen. Almost immediately, the home side had another great chance, but Vale”s defence continued to resist.

Then Vale felt they should have been awarded a penalty as Pope went down in the area, but the referee waved away Vale’s appeals.

Despite that chance, Vale were somewhat under the cosh as Loft blocked a cross from Birchall and another Gills’ shot was cleared off the goal-line.

The Valiants brought on Ben Williamson and Calvin Andrew for Lee Hughes and Jennison Myrie-Williams with fifteen minutes to go.

But despite the changes, Vale were still forced to clear their lines on a number of occasions as the home side continued to press. The best chance was a header by Charlie Lee which forced a good save from Chris Neal.

Purse became the second Vale booking for a late challenge on Birchall as the game entered its closing stages.

Subs Williamson and Taylor both had chances to add a third, but both were denied. Williamson, in particular, really should have made the match safe.

But despite a tense closing period, Vale held firm to record an excellent away victory and the travelling supporters could celebrate re-taking the top spot in League Two.

Vale: Neal, Duffy, Chilvers, Purse, Yates, Myrie-Williams (Andrew), Burge, Loft, Vincent (Taylor), Pope, Hughes (Williamson)

Subs: Davis, Johnson, Birchall, Shuker

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