Port Vale 3 Hull City 1

Kids and reserves were given a chance in the LDV Vans Trophy, but were, as Keith Dean writes, swept aside by a strong Port Vale XI.
We’re any of you actually there ? I get the distinct feeling this morning that I could report absolutely anything about last night’s match and be as vague as I want about the key moments without fear of contradiction. But that would be breaking the ethical code of your match reporters circle so sit back and take in a fact-filled account of the glamour of the LDV. Her-hm. Port Vale 3 Hull City Fringe Reserves 2nd XI 1. Mr Horton’s programme notes make it clear that the homesters were taking this competition seriously and he fielded a team including a number of first-teamers. In stark contrast we carded this motley collection of first team subs, reserves, juniors and the odd ne’er-do-well:

Musslewhite Chapman Heard Burton Price Williams Kerr Philpott Peat Alexander Bradshaw.

So, nine names there that you might be familiar with. And a couple of who-the-hell’s-hes in defence. It was a sign of things to come as the right side of our defence looked particularly vulnerable throughout. Muzz, on a return to the scene of former glories, was given a warm reception by the home fans in the BIG stand. Quite why it was labelled thus is a mystery as, if anything, it was the smallest of the four structures. Maybe the stadium owners have a plan or desire to name all parts of it after Tom Hanks films ? You’re guess is as good as mine. The game kicked off with the Tigers attacking the goal in front of their few, but vociferous fans, with heavy drizzle been blown across the pitch from left to right. Or perhaps that should be from over the Green Line Enclosure towards the Forest Gump Executive boxes. We had the better of a lively first ten minutes with Bradshaw and Peat seeing plenty of action down the left flank. The quality of the crosses was a bit disappointing but we were stringing together some neat passing to create the openings. A great, instant turn and cross from Peat forced an early corner, the first of many in the opening period, and we again took advantage down that flank shortly after when Bradshaw latched onto a long ball out of defence. He hit in a low cross which Alexander reached, just ahead of his marker, and flicked the ball out wide to the right. Williams ran in, in plenty of space, but blazed his shot a couple of yards wide. But from there it all went flat as the home team took the lead and never looked in any real danger for the rest of the evening. A high ball was lofted into the area, Heard got his head to it but didn’t get any distance on the clearance. It bobbled around at the feet of Brett Angell (it needed someone from the City defence to take control and get in a challenge) and he was left with enough time and space to turn and hit a low shot into the bottom right-hand corner. Young Tiger heads dropped visibly and it was clear that we were in for a long evening. Only a great one-on-one save from Muzzer, at the edge of the box, prevented the lead being doubled before the half  hour. It wasn’t to take much longer though. 35 minutes gone and the stocky, but not yet fallen, Angell got his second. A low cross from the left was allowed to go right along the six yard line without hindrance and was met full on by a Vale forward. Somehow Muzz blocked the shot with his legs (by making himself big, Ron ?) but was unlucky to see the ball balloon straight up into the air and for Angell to be waiting at the bottom of its trajectory to nod home before we could get in a challenge. We did at least make some effort in pushing forward and forced a series of corners. Peat was given the responsibility of whipping them in from the right and was unfortunate to see one cleared off the line, low at the near post, and then Goodlad, the home keeper, flapped at another but we had no-one on hand to tap in the loose ball. But, to be fair, if anyone was going to score during the final 15 of the first half, then it was certainly Vale. A mixture of naive defending and a lack of understanding between the City defence and midfield gifted them a number of chances and it was only their lack of composure in front of goal that kept the scoreline down. And when we did push forward, the home team were quick to break and leave us short at both back and down the sides. The half finished with a half-hearted claim for a goal when a Williams corner was collected by Goodlad periously close to his line. His feet may have been over but I’m not sure the ball was. And then Alexander got his head to a Williams cross but with insufficient power to trouble the goalie. The half time entertainment was provided by a tribute band to Haircut 100 who went by the name of Now All Going Bald and Average Age 100. And as for the second 45, it was a bit of a strange affair really. Vale, having realised they’d got the game won, seemed to let up. We introduced more fresh-faced young uns, scored a weird goal, and then let them regain the two-goal advantage. Donaldson and Russell were given their chance in place of Williams and Alexander after an hour and the former opened his goalscoring account shortly afterwards. He found himself inside the box, left of centre, surrounded by defenders, with the ball ricocheting around very much as it had prior to the opening goal. He got in some sort of a shot but it didn’t look to have the pace to beat the keeper. Maybe he got a second chance but, after an inexplicably long pause, there was a muffled roar and the players began running back to the halfway line. The goal was scored at the far end, amongst a packed penalty area and by Clayton Donaldson. I can add nothing more than that I’m afraid. And so we rallied briefly, scenting a chance to prolong the tie. But it was always patently clear that the makeshift nature of the side would prove a big hindrance. Vale, on the other hand, looked like they had played together all season and forced Muzz into more great saves. One, a full-length dive to his right to palm away a low drive, would have made even Monsieur Barthez or Signor Buffon proud. But he was helpless, after 80 mins, when a cross from the left was met at the far post and one of theirs finished clinically with a first time shot back across goal. One last substitution saw Fry on for Kerr. And what exactly will Mr Taylor have taken from this match ? Well, I would suggest he could go through it with a fine-toothed comb for many hours and he would still struggle to come up with many positive aspects. Muzz was marvellous, of course, but Alexander, Bradshaw and Williams were OK at best. Peat looked as though he could be a useful prospect and it would probably be unfair to criticise the youngsters when you consider the standard of the oppo (although Burton didn’t look anywhere near as comfortable playing at centre half as he has at full back for the first team). So the most disappointing and frustrating part of the whole evening was the lack of effort and committment from the likes of Philpott, Kerr and Price. These are players who should really be pushing for first team places unless they have already realised that the standard of play from the current first eleven is beyond them ? Poor show nonetheless, lads. And clearly none are likely to be taking part in the next instalment of our thrilling league revival against Rushden on Saturday. Skill, team understanding, pace, thrills and spills. That’s not something we can expect from the LDV’s, that’s purely just something for the weekend.

HULL CITY: Musselwhite, Heard, Chapman, Burton, Price, Philpott, Kerr, Peat, Williams, Bradshaw, Alexander.  Subs: Russell (for Williams, 60), Donaldson (for Alexander, 60), Fry (for Kerr, 82), Harvey, Turnbull. Goals: Donaldson 62 Booked: Bradshaw Sent Off: None   PORT VALE: Goodlad, Brightwell, Carragher, Collins, Rowland, Ashcroft, Charnock, Cummins, McPhee, Paynter, Angell.  Subs: McClare (for Charnock, 66), Armstrong (for Angell, 66), Delaney, Boyd, Burns. Goals: Angell 9 34, Carragher 79 Booked: None Sent Off: None   ATTENDANCE: 2,621