It was a battle of attrition at Vale Park on Saturday but here are six thoughts from Rob Fielding after the final whistle.
Will Smith stick at right-back?
The substitution of Zak Mills came around because of injury but it had no negative effect on the Port Vale defence. The reliable Shaun Brisley did well in partnership with the inspirational Leon Legge while Nathan Smith impressed at right-back. With James Gibbons still recovering from injury perhaps we will see a little bit more of the reliable Smith on the right of defence in the next few games?
Veterans still crucial
In another season, this could have been a game that Vale may have lost. But in another season they may not have had outstanding veterans Scott Brown, Leon Legge and Luke Joyce in their ranks. It’s beginning to sound a bit like a broken record but the trio were exceptional once again on Saturday.
Oyeleke shows fans what they were missing
It’s fabulous to see Manny Oyeleke back in the starting eleven and getting another ninety minutes under his belt. In a physical game, Vale needed the powerful central midfielder who linked up well with the impressive Tom Conlon. Everyone will be keeping their fingers (and toes) crossed that this is the end of his injury woes.
Harrogate look well equipped for League Two
They may not be everyone’s cup of tea but Harrogate look to be set to be a force in League Two. It’s some achievement when you consider the amount of money spent by the likes of Salford City and Bolton. Harrogate were physical, relentless and expertly drilled. They will be difficult to beat this season so maybe on reflection a draw wasn’t a bad effort!
We’ve mentioned Devante Rodney’s contributions before and again the forward showed why Vale have such faith in him. He’s not the finished article but when he fires he is a real handful. Similarly, Harry McKirdy looks like he could be a potential matchwinner when fit. He’s clearly still playing catch up from the summer still but with some more minutes in him he could be challenging for the first eleven. Both look good prospects.
Not a game that some Vale players will remember
This wasn’t the sort of game that Mark Cullen relishes and it’s possible that if Tom Pope had been available, he would have started instead. Arguably it wasn’t the striker’s fault as the high balls into him didn’t suit him. Cullen will have more important contributions over the season than this one. The same could be said for David Worrall. Even though he came closest to a goal, this was a rare off day for the energetic winger. Both will surely come strong again.