Port Vale 3 Chesterfield 2: Match analysis

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Spireites’ winning away run came to an end at a snowy Vale Park.

Dean Saunders’ men, who had won on their previous four trips and had been unbeaten in five at Port Vale, conceded two in the opening ten minutes and a third early in the second half, all goals that had the manager fuming.

Sam Kelly opened the scoring with his first ever league goal and he followed that up with an assist for AJ Leitch-Smith to restore Vale’s lead after Lee Novak had levelled with a calmly converted volley following a powerful run by ex-Valiant Sam Morsy.

The home side had few other moments of pressure before extending their lead when Louis Dodds received from Anthony Grant and he fired in off the post.

Sub Rai Simons turned on an Ollie Banks pass to curl in a 90th minute effort for Spireites but the visitors were unable to nick a last-gasp point.

Chesterfield time and again got in behind their opponents but failed to find the final ball, they wasted corners galore, forced a top drawer save from Jak Alnwick, who tipped over a Richard Duffy deflection from a Jay O’Shea free-kick, but he had precious little else to do before limping off injured late on. Sub keeper Chris Neal saw Banks hit the bar and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake misdirect a header from a gilt-edged position before Simons’ late strike.

Saunders’ annoyance with the whole afternoon was clear, from arriving at the ground and the time throughout the match.

He said: “It was a strange game really; when I arrived I couldn’t believe the snow on the pitch, obviously they didn’t want the game on having played on Thursday. We didn’t know anything about the amount of snow on the pitch until we got here, so that was a surprise, but it was the same for both teams.

“We started the game off great, we could have scored three in the first three minutes. The first time they came in our half was from a goal kick, we let the ball bounce, we’d worked on not doing that in training, practiced it all week, so that was really frustrating and then the lad shoots through Richard Wood’s legs and we’re 1-0 down against the run of play.

“We scored a great goal from Lee Novak and then dominated the whole game but the second goal goes in, a terrible goal, a deflection off Richard, unlucky, but we should have cleared the ball before that.”

Ex-Doncaster manager Saunders, who takes his team to the Keepmoat tomorrow, added: “I said at half-time if we got the next goal, we’d win, and they scored from a goal kick again, we missed it through not talking and Dodds puts it in off the post.

“They had four shots and scored three whilst we wasted chance after chance and we got to the by-line eight or nine times but didn’t take advantage of the situations, we concede three sloppy goals, you can’t go away and expect to score four to win.”

Port Vale: Alnwick 6 (Neal 80), Yates 6, McGivern 6, Duffy 6, Dickinson 5, Foley 5, Kelly 7 (Daniel 88), Leitch-Smith 7, Grant 8, Dodds 6, Moore 6. Subs: Purkiss, Streete, Birchall, Ikpeazu, Hooper.

Goals: Kelly 6, Leitch-Smith 10, Dodds 48

Chesterfield: Lee 5, Hird 5, Wood 6 (Simons 73), Evatt 7, Jones 5, O’Shea 7, Herd 6 (Banks 68, 7), Morsy 8, Gardner 5 (Ariyibi 60), Novak 7, Ebanks-Blake 5. Subs: Chapman, Talbot, O’Neil, Raglan.

Goals: Novak 8, Simons 90.

Ref: Michael Bull (Essex)

Attendance: 4,402 (356 from Chesterfield).