Port Vale signed off the season with an impressive win over Oxford United thanks to Marc Richards’ 75th senior goal for the club, Sean Rigg’s tenth of the season and Ben Williamson’s first goal since September.
Reduced ticket prices and Oxford’s hopes of a play-off place resulted in a bumper 5,651 crowd seeing the action.
However, there wasn’t much to delight the crowd in the first period as genuine chances for either side were few and far between.
Micky Adams had made one change to his starting line-up with Stuart Tomlinson replacing Chris Martin while youngster Ryan Lloyd made the bench.
Oxford, chasing a play-off place, were mainly restriced to half-chances in the first-half, which was a surprise considering their situation. The same was true of Vale, so it was a surprise when the home side took the lead a few minutes before the break.
The goal came courtesy of Vale skipper Richards who again demonstrated his worth to the team with his seventeenth of the season on 42 minutes.
Vale took the lead into the break and it was the home side who had the first chance of the second-half as Pope rattled the crossbar. From the resulting corner, youngster Joe Davis came close to scoring only for his effort to be cleared.
Oxford, despite changes at half-time, remained becalmed and Tomlinson was rarely troubled in the Vale goal.
And Rigg (pictured) wrapped up the game with his tenth of the season on the hour mark. It was an excellent strike from the former Bristol Rovers man and it knocked the stuffing out of the opposition.
Adams brought on youngster Ryan Lloyd to replace Rigg for the final 15 minutes.
With ten minutes left, an Oxford effort was ruled out for a push on Dodds as the visitors tried and failed to get on the scoresheet. But Vale added a third with sub Williamson, who had looked lively since coming on, scoring his third goal of the campaign in the dying minutes.
After so much controversy, double-dealing and misinformation in the boardroom, the ousting of the hugely unpopular board, the period in administration and fears over the club’s future, Vale will at least be thankful for a positive end to the season on the pitch.
Now, let’s hope for a brighter and united future under the stewardship of Keith Ryder – both on and off the pitch.
Vale: Tomlinson, Yates (McDonald), McCombe, Davis, Loft, Rigg (Lloyd), Griffith, Shuker, Dodds, Richards, Pope (Williamson)
Subs: Morsy, James