Michael O’Connor needs to make his mark

Michael O’Connor needs to make his mark

After a promising start Michael O’Connor will be a key performer if Micky Adams’ side is to move out of the dreaded relegation zone.

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The 26-year-old O’Connor is certainly a leading contender to lead any Vale revival. He joined the club as a free agent following a two year spell at Rotherham where he played a leading role in consecutive promotions to go from League 2 to the Championship.

Out of Adams’ three midfield signings (Michael Brown and Steve Jennings being the others) it is only O’Connor who is known for his goal-scoring prowess and if his first goal for the Valiants is anything to go by, then O’Connor could eventually turn out to be a hugely influential signing.

Debut goal

Port Vale may not have been considered amongst the favourites with http://www.bookies.com to win the Capital One Cup, but the second round tie against Cardiff provided at Vale Park provided a wonderful opportunity to pull off an upset.

The Welsh visitors had just been relegated from the Premier League and made a decent start to life back in the Championship, but there was every chance that Port Vale could upset the odds and hope for a money-spinning third round draw against the top teams in England.

The game lived up to expectation as both teams produced an excellent spectacle for the fans who turned up in their numbers to cheer Port Vale on. An attendance of 4,500 saw the Valiants give Cardiff a real scare before Cardiff’s quality finally shone through to win 3-2, with a brace from former Manchester United striker Federico Machedo making the difference.

However, Adams can take great encouragement from the performance against much more illustrious opponents, although fans will undoubtedly remember the game for Michael O’Connor’s wonder goal which set a new club record. After Cardiff took the lead through Joe Ralls, Port Vale won a free kick just past the half-way line which presented a good opportunity to get the ball into the box and cause problems. While everyone was expecting a long ball, a short pass was received by O’Connor who took one touch before hitting an unstoppable shot from 41 yards into the top right-hand corner, giving Cardiff goalkeeper Simon Moore absolutely no chance.

It broke a 45 year record held by Bobby Gough who held Port Vale’s longest range goal with a 35 yard effort against Oldham in 1969, and will be a goal that O’Connor will remember for the rest of his life.

Revival needed

Recording five points in the first three league games, including an excellent 3-1 victory at Doncaster, represented a strong start for Port Vale who looked to hit the ground running in League 1. However, their recent form has been dreadful with six straight defeats and O’Connor will need to regain his early season form if the club are to move out of the relegation zone.

Adams remained active in the transfer market until the final day, with the loan signing of Norrby IF striker Achille Campion representing an interesting signing. The 24-year-old Frenchman could be the man to reduce the burden on Tom Pope’s shoulders to score the majority of Port Vale’s goals, although Blackburn loanee Jordan Slew brings considerable pace, strength and an eye for goal that could reap dividends once he gains match fitness.

There is always the possibility that O’Connor can continue producing wonderful long-range strikes, with managers across League 1 more than likely to be aware of the considerable threat he poses – something which took Cardiff by complete surprise.

 

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