Opinion – experienced spine played huge role in Port Vale’s away win

Rob Fielding says that the experienced core of the Vale side played a huge role in the side’s long awaited away League win over Bradford.

Vale won 2-1 on Tuesday night but after a spirited first-half, the Valiants had to rely on a resiliant second-half defensive display and a breakaway goal to secure the three points.

However, for this observer, the key men in Vale’s epic second-half defensive display were Scott Brown, Leon Legge, Luke Joyce and Richie Bennett…

Yes, David Worrall scored the first goal and was a constant source of irritation to the Bradford defence. Yes, youngters Jake Taylor and Scott Burgess linked well and added energy in midfield. Yes, James Gibbons buzzed up and down the right flank like usual…

However, for this observer, the key men in Vale’s epic second-half defensive display were Scott Brown, Leon Legge, Luke Joyce and Richie Bennett. Bennett? Yes, after selfishly setting up the Vale opener and causing problems upfront in the first-half, Bennett put in a shift defending in the second. It was often the tall striker picking up defenders at corners or clearing the ball out.

Veteran keeper Scott Brown once again showed his class with two fine saves to keep Vale in it. Luke Joyce expertly knitted the midfield together and picked up the runners. Meanwhile, veterans Nathan Smith and Leon Legge (and I call Smith a veteran as despite his young age he has been a fixture in recent years) performed manfully in central defence.

Some of these players are more unsung than others. Unlike Tom Pope’s recent bullish tweet about being the “best lone striker” in the club, I doubt Luke Joyce would use social media to declare he’s the best defensive midfielder at the Vale. But after a slow start last season, Joyce has settled and is playing a key role. As are Bennett, Legge, Smith and Brown. They all put their bodies on the line last night and Vale won three points as a result.

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