Vale put on an excellent Friday night performance as goals from Carl Dickinson and Michael O’Connor helped them to a comprehensive win over Southend.
OVF Note: later reports credited Vale’s first goal to AJ Leitch-Smith and not Dickinson.
Rob Page handed starts to both O’Connor and Louis Dodds with JJ Hooper and Theo Robinson on the bench.
Vale made a solid start with Louis Dodds impressing at times. However, it was an unlikely figure to open the Vale scoring as captain Carl Dickinson scored on 18 minutes. Dickinson had scored just once in his first 130 appearances but had now notched his second goal in his last five games.
There was a break in play for an injury to Michael O’Connor and Vale were grateful that O’Connor was able to resume as he put in a great block to prevent Southend equalising. They were even more grateful on 36 minutes when O’Connor drilled home Vale’s second goal.
The visitors countered immediately and good defending by Duffy deflected an effort onto the post. Vale made the visitors pay when O’Connor’s ball was deflected home by defender Ben Coker to make it 3-0 to the Valiants at the break.
Vale continued to put together some nice moves in the second period but they couldn’t add to their tally in the opening ten minutes of the second-half although Bentley in the Southend goal had to be alert with an O’Connor free-kick.
Vale could afford to replace AJ Leitch-Smith with JJ Hooper early on but it was Hooper’s strike partner Dodds who threatened next with a shot going just wide.
Vale could not add to their tally and conceded a soft Southend consolation goal in the closing moments. And in injury time there was more drama as Southend won a penalty for a foul on Mooney. However, Mooney took the spot-kick and could only hit the bar.
Nevertheless, despite those late blips, it had been a very encouraging Friday evening performance.
Vale: Neal, Purkiss, Duffy, McGivern, Dickinson, Foley, Grant, O’Connor, Kennedy (Kelly), Dodds, Leitch-Smith (Hooper)
Subs: Boot, Yates, Streete, Robinson
Attendance: 3,987 (286 away)