Port Vale (Away)

Jul 12, 2023 | 2023 A Season in Review

Vale Park Saturday 22nd April 2023

Port Vale 2

Harrison (22), Pett (29)

Bristol Rovers 0

Referee: Sunny Gill Attendance: 7,669

Vale Park, scene of a remarkable 3-1 win last season as Rovers marched on towards promotion from the second tier promised much again this season as Vale who were also promoted, via the play offs, required three points to almost certainly guarantee the sides meeting again in League One next season.

The hosts had dispensed with the services of former Rovers boss Darrell Clarke seven days earlier, but still boasted two former Gas men in their ranks, in the shape of Ellis Harrison and Matty Taylor. While Harrison started, Oxford loanee Taylor was on the bench.

Rovers, meanwhile, recalled former Vale player James Gibbons to their starting XI along with goalkeeper Jed Ward and Sam Finley and Stuart Sinclair. The players to make way were Jarell Quansah, James Belshaw, Luca Hoole and Ryan Loft. Only Loft, missing through injury, didn’t make the bench.

The home side made the early running and goalkeeper Ward was soon in the thick of the action, punching away a corner in the opening minutes and then saving a shot from Funso Ojo in the tenth minute, at the second attempt.

With Vale dominating possession it came as little surprise when they opened the scoring in the 22nd minute. Even less of a surprise was that it was Harrison who scored.

The former Rovers striker was on hand to net with a spectacular overhead kick after a corner from the left was headed back across goal where he was able to notch his 11th goal of the season. To be fair to him, his celebrations were muted as he had scored in front of the fans who used to cheer him.

Seven minutes later goalscorer Harrison turned provider when he laid the ball off to Tom Pett who had the simplest of tasks to fire the ball past Ward to double his side’s lead.

Injury saw Harrison substituted before the half time whistle but had it not been for Ward Vale might well have added a third goal before the break. Thankfully, the keeper was alert when James Wilson fired in a shot and made a very good save.

Antony Evans entered the fray as a 51st minute substitute for Grant Ward and his first touch was to take a free kick which sailed just wide of the upright.

Manager Joe Barton then made a quadruple substitution just seven minutes later, sending on Quansah, Harry Anderson, Hoole and Marquis in place of James Connolly, Lewis Gordon, Gibbons and Sinclair.

If the manager had hoped it would make a difference, he was proven wrong as Rovers continued to look lethargic while Vale looked to be playing within themselves.

Aaron Donnelly saw his goalbound effort blocked by Finley, while Marquis headed over the bar from a corner shortly after arriving on the pitch and Aaron Collins fired a long range effort over the bar with 15 minutes to go.

That, though, as they say was it. On the day Rovers were poor at the back, the midfield were unable to get in the game and therefore there was no service to Josh Coburn up front. After the promising performances of recent weeks, this was a hugely disappointing effort from Barton’s side.

Port Vale: Stone, Forrester, Smith, Donnelly, Worrall (Robinson, 53), Ojo, Pett (Plant, 84), Benning, Wilson (Butterworth, 46), Harrison (Proctor, 40), Massey (Conlon, 84).

Substitutes: Taylor, Stevens.

Bristol Rovers: Ward (J), Gibbons (Hoole, 58), Connolly (Quansah, 58), Gibson, Gordon (Anderson, 58), Bogarde, Finley, Ward (G) (Evans, 51), Sinclair (Marquis, 58), Collins, Coburn.

Substitutes: Belshaw, McCormick.


There were two former Rovers players in the Port Vale squad. Ellis Harrison played and scored, while Matty Taylor was an unused substitute

Yellow cards were issued to Grant Ward and Sam Finley

Finley was skipper

Five substitutes used

First Rovers appearance for goalkeeper Jed Ward since his debut at Blackpool on 9th May 2021

Ten added minutes

(photos courtesy of JMP)

Keith Brookman