Port Vale 2-2 Preston NE

Port Vale 2-2 Preston NE

Michael O’Connor scored twice from the spot in a game that saw three penalties awarded and Vale reduced to ten men.

Manager Rob Page named the same starting eleven that drew with Scunthorpe but striker Tom Pope returned to the bench after recovering from a virus. However, the visitors started much the stronger and after hitting the woodwork early on, they took the lead on twelve minutes through Johnson.

The visitors were looking a good side with the exception of the loathsome Joe Garner, who skill and goalscoring aside remains an unsavoury character. Garner was soon up to his “tricks” using his elbow to fell keeper Chris Neal. The striker is certainly one of the most talented, yet unpleasant, characters in the division.

Luckily the rest of the North End side were not ploughing Garner’s depths and the impressive visitors hit the woodwork again as Vale sadly struggled to make any impression at all.

Vale brought on Pope for Campion at half-time. The Frenchman had picked up a knock in the first period. And in the opening five minutes, Pope won a penalty as he was held back in the box. Michael O’Connor stepped up to the spot and made no mistake with his fifth goal of the season to put Vale on level terms.

The goal reinvigorated the Valiants and spurred the crowd into life but the home side were stunned minutes later when Chris Neal made  a great save but Richard Duffy appeared to handle on the line and the visitors were awarded a penalty. Nemesis Joe Garner made no mistake to put Preston back in front.

Vale’s ten men continued to raise their game with Marshall and Collins both having efforts. The Valiants got their reward with five minutes left as the ref awarded the third penalty of the night as O’Connor was fouled by Welsh.

Michael O’Connor netted his second penalty of the game to level the game and moments later the odious Garner got a richly deserved yellow card as the ref finally tired of his antics.

Preston brought on strikers Kevin Davies and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake in the closing minutes but Vale’s ten men held on to earn a potentially priceless point.

Vale: Neal, Veseli, Duffy, Collins, Dickinson, Marshall, Brown, O’Connor, Dodds (Yates), Williamson (Coulibaly), Campion (Pope)

Subs: Johnson, Birchall, Daniel, O’Sullivan

Attendance: 7,210