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Match Reports

Port Vale v Latics

18 January 2014

Lee Johnson's side are once again rueing the fact that they have lost a game, having played really well, dominated for long spells and yet again came away with nothing. Jack Grimmer's 52nd minute goal clinching the points for Vale. Latics Mark Oxley also saving a penalty from Jennison Myrie-Williams. 

After the game Latics First Team Coach Paul Murray said:  "Goals are becoming a real problem for us, we are becoming the nearly men. We nearly get to the final ball, we nearly clear the ball. In the first half we controlled the game again, but once again we don't punish the opposition.

"We have spoken to the lads afterwards about showing more desire in the box, we are in a real battle and need to show that real desire to take the chances we are creating"

Johnson made one change to the starting line-up for the game at Vale Park, Gary Harkins making his second start for Latics with Michael Petrasso dropping to the bench. There were two changes on the bench which saw David Worrall and Carl Winchester replace Connor Brown and Anton Rodgers.

Latics showed the same form as they had in the midweek defeat at Walsall, playing a swift brand of attacking football, outplaying their hosts for long periods of the half, but again failing to hit the back of the net when the opportunity arose. 

Latics earned the first corner of the game in the 2nd minute as James Dayton's cross was charged down. Korey Smith's kick easily cleared by the Vale defence. Vale's first corner coming four minutes later, Mark Oxley punching the ball clear under pressure.

A superb counter attack on 10 minutes saw Dayton's teasing cross tipped by Chris Neal over for a corner, Dayton's second ball in was well saved by Neal, with no visiting player able to take advantage of the loose ball. 

Ben Williamson's shot which was high and wide being the home sides first attempt on goal on 13 minutes, followed by a similarly poor effort from Latics skipper Smith.

Williamson's next effort, two minutes later needed a smart save from Oxley, who got down well to his right to smother the goal bound shot.

Harkins shot wide seconds later after another swift counter from Latics, the big attacking midfielder should probably have done better after Charlie MacDonald's clever dummy had set him up.

A minute later, and  Dayton again shot well over when well placed, Vale responding with an effort from Williamson that was just wide of Oxley's post.

Harkins, enjoying playing in his preferred role, showed a good burst of pace to play his way past four home defenders, Jack Grimmer with a last ditch tackle on the edge of the box to halt his run.

Latics were proving to be dangerous on the break, Dayton just showing too heavy a touch as Danny Philliskirk played him in goal on 28 minutes. Neal quickly off his line to clear the danger.

The home side's next effort saw Doug Loft shooting just wide from a tight angle after a deep cross in from the left hand side just after the half hour mark.

Vale were forced into an early substitution as Chris Shuker replaced Florent Culevier after a lengthy hold up. Culevier looked to have landed awkwardly after an aerial challenge on the halfway line.

Home striker Jennison Myrie-Williams  earning the first yellow card of the game, guilty of diving in the Latics box on 37 minutes. He was followed a couple of minutes later by team mate Joe Davis, for a crude challenge on Harkins.

Latics should have taken the lead as the half time whistle beckoned, Dayton's deftly chipped effort coming back off the bar, Harkins and Genserix Kusunga both missing the opportunity to turn home the loose ball.

Dayton had the last chance to give his side a lead at the break, his free kick from the edge of the box, after he had been brought down, wastefully high and wide with referee Sutton immediately blowing the half time whistle.

HT: Port Vale 0 Latics 0

After a slow opening to the second half, MacDonald went down in the Vale box after he had latched onto a loose ball following  a misunderstanding between the home defence. Vale's supporters voicing their displeasure at the fact he hadn't been booked for diving.

GOAL 1-0 

Latics conceded a poor opening goal as Shuker's corner to the near post was deftly headed home by Grimmer through a crowd of players in the six yard box on 52 minutes.   

Another swift counter saw Smith feed Philliskirk in on the right hand side of the box, the Latics top scorer shooting well wide. Smith then shooting straight at Neal with Harkins free in the box a few minutes later.

PENALTY - Dayton brought down Vale top scorer Tom Pope in the box on 64 minutes, referee Sutton rightly pointing to the spot. Oxley kept his side in the game as he brilliantly tipped away Myrie-Williams well struck spot kick. Latics defence clearing the loose ball. Loft becoming the third home player into the book after he spoke out of turn to referee Sutton in the aftermath.

Johnson threw his last dice on 69 minutes, making a triple substitution, Jonson Clarke-Harris, Michael Petrasso and David Worrall replacing Philliskirk, Dayton and MacDonald.

Petrasso, in the last game of his loan spell, was soon in the action, feeding Smith who's shot skimmed just wide of Neal's post.

Vale's second substitution, on 72 minutes, saw Jordan Hugill replacing Pope. Chris Birchall replacing Myrie-Williams six minutes later.

James Tarkowski saw his header, from yet another Latics corner, drift just wide of Neal's post as Johnson's side looked for the leveller their play deserved. 

Worrall then saw his shot saved well by Neal after Harkins delightful through ball had found him in the area.

Despite a late spell of Latics pressure, Vale held on to record the victory that keeps them in the hunt for the play-offs.

Murray added: "It's obvious that there is something missing, the lads are training well, and then playing well, but it just isn't happening in front of goal on the day

"We appear to have a soft underbelly where teams are hanging on when we are on top, and then taking their chance, it's as if they are being told that we will give them an opportunity, and once again we did. It was a poor corner to concede and we didn't defend it well at all"

FT: Port Vale 1 Latics 0  

ATT: 6,002 (594)

Latics: Oxley, Grounds, Wesolowski, Kusunga, Tarkowski, Smith, MacDonald (Worrall), Mellor, Dayton (Petrasso), Philliskirk (Clarke-Harris), Harkins.

Subs: Rachubka, Rooney, Winchester, Lockwood.

Latics STATS:
Possession - 53%
Shots on Target - 8 
Shots off target - 2
Corners - 9
Fouls - 13
Bookings - 0

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