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Reds fall to defeat at Vale Park in opening league fixture

12 September 2020

The Reds fell to a 2-0 defeat in their opening Sky Bet League Two fixture at Vale Park after Mark Cullen scored a brace for the hosts. 

The hosts started the brighter of the two sides as former Salford City man Devante Rodney looked dangerous on the left wing winning his side an early corner which was well dealt with by the Reds defence. 

The Reds soaked up a great deal of pressure from the hosts in the opening quarter of an hour and were almost rewarded themselves. Jack Powell and George Francomb linked up well which left Powell space to bend a shot but it was well blocked by Vale captain Leon Legge. 

The game then began to pick up pace with Mark Cullen forcing a good save from Morris following a quick Vale counter-attack. The Reds immediately fired back with a counter of their own, Nadesan holding the ball up very well on the goal line and sliding the ball back to Tyler Frost who hit a thunderous strike towards goal which Scott Brown palmed over his crossbar.

Vale continued to hold the majority of possession and had a strong shout for a penalty after Nathan Smith rose for a header immediately falling to floor claiming he had been blocked off by Jordan Tunniclife but referee Sam Allison waved away the protests. 

The hosts were rewarded for their control of possession five minutes before the break. Rodney got the better of Archie Davies at the half way line and was able to break free and charge towards the Reds penalty area where he squared the ball for Mark Cullen who smashed home into the opposite corner to give his side the lead. 

The hosts could have landed themselves a second before the break, an excellent block from Tunnicliffe fell into the path of Scott Burgess who delivered a ball to the back stick to an unmarked Mark Cullen but he could do no better than head over the bar.

The Reds started the second half much the brighter side and almost found themselves level early on. Frost did excellently to chop past a Vale defender before releasing another fierce strike at goal which Brown again dealt with well. 

Vale began to work back into the half and were inches from doubling their lead 60 minutes in. Tom Conlon did very well to touch the ball clear of Davies before firing a full volley just wide. Just two minutes later Vale did have their second goal. Conlon again involved in the thick of it as his header hit the woodwork following a Vale corner, the rebound fell kindly for Cullen who couldn't miss as he tapped home to double his sides lead. 

The Reds continued to fight in search for a goal to get back into the fixture and were almost caught on the counter, as David Worrall appeared to be through on goal but instead of going alone decided to try and square it to Cullen for his hat-trick, but his ball was over hit and it ran through for a Reds goal kick. 

Debutant Tom Nichols did very well down the left hand side in the 85th minute, good skill gave him the space to square for German but the striker could not direct his shot goalwards. Vale were quick to respond as Worrall was again involved on the right flank, his ball this time meeting the head of Theo Robinson but Morris did excellently to scramble to his left and save. 

The Reds continued to search for an avenue back into the game and forced a flurry of late corners but it was not enough as the hosts held on to claim a 2-0 victory at Vale Park. 

Crawley Town: Morris, Davies, Tunnicliffe, Craig, Doherty, Francomb (c), Ferguson, Frost (Hessenthaler 69'), Ashford (Nichols 69'), Powell (German 45'), Nadesan

Port Vale: Brown, Joyce, Legge, Smith, Worrall, Conlon, Cullen (Robinson 80'), Mills, Burgess, Rodney (Montano 77'), Fitzpatrick

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