Wanderers won their 6th match in a row against a Port Vale side that were blown away by an unplayable 15 minute display from the home side. Zach Clough, Josh Vela and Lawrie Wilson all scored to keep the Whites in 2nd spot in League 1, just behind the also impressive, Scunthorpe United. Mark your cards for New Year’s Eve when the two teams meet at the Macron as I feel certain now that it will be a title decider.
One might feel I am being premature when I say that as we are only just about to enter November with a very long time left in the season but we have been so good of late it’s hard to see any team that could stop us bar Scunthorpe. The ease with which we created chances against Vale was near comical and despite losing our clean sheet record, the defence was again comfortable.
The reason, for me, why we conceded was because of Jay Spearings warm-up injury. Liam Trotter came in and did very well, in my opinion, but the degree of solidity that comes from the midfield when Spearing is there stops the majority of pressure coming at Beevers and Wheater. They had more to deal with yesterday, mainly in the second half, because Trotter couldn’t be as dynamic as Spearing i.e. picking up midfield runners and stopping attacks at source. Despite that, he helped us going forward and it showed on the score sheet.
My Dad managed to put a negative spin on Clough scoring his 5th goal in 4 games by stating, almost immediately, "He’ll be gone in January". If he plays with the kind of confidence that allows him to score brilliant goals like that every week, we certainly won’t keep him. He looks to have found a rhythm on the left-hand side and while I worry about him flitting in and out of games, when he’s on the ball he terrifies defences.
Another player of that ilk is Sammy Ameobi. It was his skill and cross that led to Josh Vela doubling our lead but his overall performance was outstanding. He has huge amounts of ability and he had the beating of two men at once more often than not but his work-rate made him stand out for me. While Clough didn’t help Andrew Taylor much defensively, Ameobi was always there to cover Lawrie Wilson. If he continues to play like this we have a match-winner on our hands.
Speaking of Lawrie Wilson, he said in his post-match interview that he only ever seems to score screamers. His goal on Saturday was exactly that. Regardless of whether it took a deflection or not, it was always heading in. After our 15 minute blitz, one could forgive us for taking our foot off the gas. Not likely. Gary Madine, who I got put on the back of my shirt yesterday, missed two glorious chances to end his goal drought while both Clough and Vela had chances to double their tallies. It could have been a much greater winning margin.
Port Vale noticeably improved in the second-half and got their goal in scrappy fashion from a corner diverted into the net by Sam Hart. A few other half-chances and one superb Mark Howard save aside, the Whites looked comfortable. The Vale frustration at this showed after the second goal and continued throughout the game as numerous fans were thrown out. What did they expect though? They were playing Bolton Wanderers: they were never going to win.