Vale arrived at St James Park needing a win to secure their place in the football league. They come on the back of some great results. Vale do however have the least amount of goals in the league, so getting the ball over the line does seem to be the issue. Vale made one change with Luke Hannant coming in for the injured Manny Oyeleke. As I said in the pre match report, this could turn out to be a good thing as Vale have, at times played better without Oylelke on the pitch.
The game could not have started off worse with a penalty within the first minute. It appear from both the press and the away end, to be a very harsh decision and having looked at the reply I am still a little confused about why the penalty was given. The Referee obviously thought that there was an infringement of the laws of the game. Howkins however looked shocked and confused about the decision that was given against him. Nicky Law took the penalty with confidence and Vale were behind within 2 minutes of the kick off.
Vale seemed to have had the stuffing knocked out of them as they were on the back foot for a large amount of the first half. This was not helped by the stop start element of the game brought on by the referee, who would blow up for the smallest of touches.
Vale could have been two behind within minutes of the second half kicking off, a looping cross from Hiram Boateng, that was smashed into the back of the net by Ryan Bowman, if it had not been for the keen eye of the assistant referee who ruled it offside.
The second goal came from a shot that has to be contender for goal of the day, Hiram Boateng’s was given too much space and time and was allowed to chest the ball down and Volley the ball into the back of the net, it was simply too much for a inform Scott Brown. John Askey said on the club website “We didn’t win enough second balls and we didn’t play how we have been playing. Exeter didn’t allow us to press them because every time they got it they lumped it forward.”
Depsite the loss, Vale still remain 10 point clear of the drop zone thanks to the clubs in and around the area also having a bad weekend. With only 12 points left to play for, Vale could secure safety with just one win.
Stevenage Visit Vale Park on Good Friday at 3pm.