CRAWLEY TOWN 0, PORT VALE 1
A disappointing afternoon and one to forget for the Reds as Port Vale collected all three points at The People’s Pension Stadium to condemn the hosts to their third successive defeat.
The Reds never managed to get themselves out of first gear and were made to pay thanks to Ricky Miller's effort in the first half as Vale sealed the Sky Bet League 2 double over Gabriele Cioffi’s side.
The Italian had made two changes to the side beaten by Mansfield on Tuesday with Panutche Camara and Dannie Bulman coming in for Luke Gambin and the suspended Josh Payne.
The crowd at The People's Pension stadium had to wait till the 15th minute for the first shot on target. Miller found himself in a prime position to give the visitors the lead after a mix up in the Crawley defence and with only Glenn Morris and Mark Connolly in the way, but a fantastic block by the defender kept the ball out.
From that point on, the match began to open up and both sides were finding themselves in more and more dangerous areas of the pitch. The Reds were next to go inches from scoring through Dominic Poleon. A brilliant through ball from Ollie Palmer beat the last line of the Port Vale defence and landed at the feet of Poleon, who had the goal gaping, one on one with the goalkeeper. Unfortunately, his effort ended up going agonisingly past the post and behind for a goal kick.
Crawley were made to pay as in the 27th minute, Port Vale taking the lead thanks to Miller. The No.10 was picked out by Luke Hannant and put through on goal. Morris managed to parry Miller's effort but, on his second attempt, Miller didn't make any mistake and he had a simple tap in to make it 1-0.
It took over ten minutes for the next notable chance and that fell to Filipe Morais. A corner was floated into the Port Vale area and eventually arrived at the feet of Morais 20 yards out on the edge of the box, but shot was expertly tipped over the crossbar by Scott Brown.
Mirroring the beginning of the first half, the second began in similar fashion with both sides struggling to retain possession.
In the 53rd minute, James Gibbons had a glorious chance to double the lead for the visitors. The ball came through to the full-back on the right-hand side of the Crawley box but fortunately his attempt went just wide and across the goal and out for a goal kick.
The introduction of Luke Gambin just after the hour mark looked to give Crawley some much needed life, but the next goal still appeared most likely to come from our visitors. Miller once more found himself in dangerous pockets of space, twice forcing Morris to make saves.
Back came Crawley and Gambin who nearly scored would have been a fortuitous goal. The midfielder ended up on the right-hand side of Vale's area and delivered a dangerous looking ball in which evaded everyone including the goalkeeper before going inches past the far post.
Towards the end Reds finally began to build consistent pressure and Gambin tried a speculative effort from about 30 yards out but overhit his attempt and the ball flew over – it summed up a frustrating afternoon for the hosts in the final third.
As the Reds pushed more and more men forward, searching for that elusive equaliser, Mitchell Clark countered for Port Vale in a two against one situation in injury time, only to sky his effort over.
It wasn't to be for the home side as Vale held on for a win they will feel they deserved.
Reds: Morris; Young, Francomb, Connolly, Dallison, Maguire; Camara (German 83), Bulman, Morais (Gambin 63), Poleon (Nathaniel-George 72), Palmer.
Attendance: 2089 (257 Port Vale)
Pictured: Dominic Poleon had Reds best chance but failed to hit the target in the first half. Photo by James Boardman