Port Vale 0-0 Northampton Town: Spoils shared in quiet affair
BURSLEM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12: Ali Koiki of Northampton Town looks to move forward with the ball away from Tom Pett of Port Vale during the Sky Bet League Two match between Port Vale and Northampton Town at Vale Park on February 12, 2022 in Burslem, England. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)

Port Vale dropped down to ninth place in League Two after being held to a goalless draw at home to third placed Northampton Town.

It was a game that surely won't live long in the memory with limited clear cut chances created with neither goalkeeper having too much to think about.

The stalemate does extend the Valiants’ unbeaten run to five games though as they remain only four points adrift of the play-off spots, with games in hand on the teams above them.

Meanwhile, Northampton stay in the automatic promotion places by two points and only have one defeat in seven games.

Story of the game

The visitors, who only made one change from their win against Newport County, made the brighter start with defender Jon Guthrie having an effort from range inside four minutes, but he could only find the side netting.

Only ten minutes later, Tomas Holy was forced into his first stop of the afternoon following good interchange play between Sam Hoskins and Paul Lewis, but Lewis’ shot from the left was well kept out by the legs of the Ipswich Town loanee. 

Vale did grow into the game however, without creating too much of note, with their first meaningful opening coming on the stroke of half time, when James Wilson saw his deflected shot from outside of the area loop easily into the arms of Liam Roberts.

Embed from Getty Images

After the break, the game remained quite scrappy, but the Cobblers came close to breaking the deadlock on the hour mark when a ball across goal by Danny Rose narrowly evaded the toe of an arriving Mitch Pinnock at the back post.

Despite the Valiants going back into their shell in the second half, they will have felt that they should have done better on the 68th minute mark, when Wilson fed Ben Garrity on the edge of the box, but he scuffed his effort wide of the mark.

Nine minutes later, Darrell Clarke's side tested Roberts for the first time in the second period, when Garrity found Jamie Proctor, who was making his first appearance since November, but his curling strike was held by the Northampton number one.

Then on the 82nd minute, the hosts were outraged that Beryly Lubala didn't receive his marching orders when he hacked down Tom Pett when through on goal.

However, the referee didn't adjudge it to be the denial of a goalscoring opportunity as he only punished the substitute with a booking as the game went on to run its course with neither side doing enough to warrant the victory.

Lack of quality and urgency factor for stalemate

Throughout the entirety the game, there were very little chances for either team with Holy only being forced into one decent save while Roberts was not asked to do anything that was less than routine.

There is no doubt that both defences remained solid throughout, but it didn't help that in possession both sides were flat and the quality of the final ball for the majority was poor.

Both teams opted to start with a three at the back system with two forwards up top and they ended up cancelling each other out with no player being able to get a foothold on the game and create that bit of magic which would change the outcome of the result.

From the Valiants point of view, particularly today, they were missing the creativity of captain Tom Conlon who is still out with an achilles injury.

His ability to be able to pick out a player in the final third is something that would have been much appreciated for Vale against the Cobblers and fans will just be keen for their number 10 to return to the action as soon as possible.

Star Player- Connor Hall

In the back three, Hall remained solid and wasn't afraid to put in a tackle when asked questions down the right hand side.

He nullified Rose to very little and won a lot of the aerial battles that came his way.

The January signing from Harrogate Town was also composed when in possession and formed a good partnership with Aaron Martin who was sat in the middle of Vale's defence.