Port Vale’s attacks began to look more dangerous and with our past record of giving teams a goal start, it was perhaps no real surprise when they went ahead. A free kick crossed from the right was partially cleared to McPhee who from just inside the box shot low into the far corner.
This seemed to motivate the visitors, who enjoyed their best spell of the half, and apart from good saves by Moss and poor finishing (McPhee being the main culprit), should have extended their lead.
Feeney did have a shot deflected for a corner just before half time, but it was a subdued Dean Court at half time. Would the customary fight back ensue?
It didn’t take long after the start of the second half to find out.
AFCB began to lay siege on the visitors’ goal and on 50 minutes a long clearance out of the Bournemouth defence cleared the flailing boot of the last Port Vale defender and into the path of the onrushing Feeney, who took the ball past their keeper only to be upended in the box. A clear penalty but what colour card? The North Stand was baying for a red but realistically, in these times of referees exercising a little more restraint and common sense, the ref (who incidentally I thought had a good game) chose yellow. A friend in the North Stand said Feeney was going away from goal but would probably have scored.
Garreth stepped up for the penalty. Why does the goal look so small when we are taking a penalty but so large and gaping when we are defending one? Anyway he made no mistake, firing low to the left with the keeper collapsing in a heap to the right as soon as he realized he had gone the wrong way!
Shortly after, Garreth had a fierce shot from distance just wide but we didn’t have long to wait.
We continued to press and joy, a second goal. Stephen Cooke picked up the ball just inside our half and scampered down the right, picking out big Fletch in the box with a beautifully threaded pass. Fletch then calmly placed the ball through the advancing keeper’s legs and into the net.
Both sides had chances to add to their score, Moss doing particularly well on several occasions, particularly when Brooker, despite being challenged by two defenders managed to get in a header which Moss finger-tipped away. The omens looked good when Littlejohn, the scorer of their late winner back in August, went off injured.
O’Connor and McPhee were both booked for dissent (on separate occasions) resulting in free kicks being moved forward ten yards (their free kick to the edge of our box – more nail biting).
Cooke was substituted for Elliott after 75 minutes and left to a standing ovation. Almost a “what happened next” incident when Wade gave the ball back to their keeper after they had put it out for one of their players to receive treatment. Just for a second he appeared to lose control of it in front of goal resulting in a few oohs and aahs from the home crowd!
Nice to see Deadly come on after 90 minutes (for Feeney) although the only contribution he had time for was to give away a free kick after 91.
With the timer on the scoreboard still not working it was a pleasant surprise when the ref blew for full time. A good result we just about deserved. Vale may have thought they were worth a point but we should have got one at their place so it evened itself out.
AFCB: Moss, Broadhurst, Buxton, Carl Fletcher, Cummings, Browning, Cooke (Elliott 75), O'Connor, Hayter, Steve Fletcher, Feeney (Holmes 90).
Subs not used: Maher, Thomas, Connell.
Mike Watts, Hamble