Rob Fielding shares his thoughts after Port Vale’s encouraging away victory at Boundary Park including thoughts on David Amoo and Mitch Clark.
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Amoo shows Vale fans what they were missing
This season it had seemed like some Vale fans had downplayed David Amoo’s significance to this team. Perhaps it was the distraction of new summer signings, perhaps it was that the player’s absence had made them forget what a performer he can be. I would imagine the doubters are silent today. In the first-half at Boundary Park, Amoo gave the Oldham full-backs nightmares, so much so that both were replaced at the break. Amoo may have faded after the break (no surprise as he’s still gaining fitness) but on this showing, he displayed exactly what he can bring – pace, power and directness. Let’s hope we see plenty of that in the coming weeks.
Clark my man of the match
There were plenty of encouraging Port Vale performances but the stand-out for me was buccaneering full-back Mitch Clark. Not only did he cut in to score a fine first senior goal but his header off the line in the second period showed the defensive area of his game was spot on too. Loanee Clark is arguably too good for League Two and Vale fans should treasure every appearance of his third loan spell at the club.
Conlon and Burgess click
After a recent blip, Vale’s number ten, Tom Conlon looked back to his best playing in a more advanced position. However, it could be that his performance seemed better because of Scott Burgess’s work in also getting forward to support him. Burgess has had a slow start to this season and while he remains a little off his best this was a much better display. With Burgess supporting him, Conlon had options aplenty in his more advanced role and with two skilful, attacking midfielders Vale were able to put the Oldham backline under constant pressure.
Where will the goals come from? Well, the defence…
It goes without saying that all Port Vale goals are welcome but when the recent focus has been on Vale’s lack of goal threat, strikes from a full-back and centre-half are very welcome. It’s something of a surprise that an attacking full-back like Clark hasn’t scored before Saturday and he surely has more in his locker while Smith could be good for half a dozen goals this season (he could have had two on Saturday). If Leon Legge and Cristian Montano can also contribute then Vale’s defence will surely help boost the Valiants’ goals scored column.
Still more to come from this Port Vale squad
This was a good win despite Vale still missing the likes of Manny Oyeleke, Mark Cullen, James Gibbons and Harry McKirdy. A full-back partnership of Gibbons and Clark will have many fans drooling, a fit Oyeleke would be first choice in midfield while McKirdy could have caused havoc in these rainy conditions. So, the fact that the Valiants recorded a decent win without them is a welcome sign of John Askey’s squad strength.
After a couple of features criticising John Askey’s substitutions, it’s time to give praise where it’s due. For me, every change on Saturday was a sensible one…
- Replacing David Amoo in the second-half was sensible. Even though he was a big threat there was no need to risk another hamstring strain.
- Bringing in David Fitzpatrick into the defence was a sensible move to shore up the left side in the closing stages. While Monty is a threat going forward, Fitzpatrick is the better option for solid defending at the close.
- Bringing on Tom Pope for Theo Robinson was also a sensible move. While Theo Robinson had linked up well, Pope’s ability to hold the ball was valuable in the closing stages.