7:45pm, Tuesday 7th December 2021
The Memorial Stadium
The Gas welcome former manager and Gas Legend Darrell Clarke and his high-flying Port Vale team to the Memorial Stadium this evening. I am looking forward to giving Darrell a very warm welcome, as is fitting for all that he has done for Bristol Rovers.
Port Vale are eleven positions above The Gas in the league table but they only have nine more points that us, which is an indication of how tight this league is. If we can stop dropping points then we would fly up the table.
Both teams have mixed form, and Port Vale are in the middle of a mini-slump so this may prove to be a good time to face them. I understand they are going through a bit of an injury crisis at the moment. We need to capitalise on that and take all three points this evening, but it will be a tough game.
The Gas put in a decent performance against a lively looking Port Vale team, but were denied any real chance of victory this evening by a sending off in either half. Port Vale take all three points despite a gutsy performance in what were terrible conditions at times.
I cannot fault the desire, commitment and effort of the ten / nine men. They gave everything and much credit must be given for the second half performance.
After the sending off in the first half, it was all Port Vale, and we could consider ourselves fortunate to only be two goals down. The sending off visibly shook the team, and they lost their heads for twenty minutes, during which time we conceded two goals. They appeared to regain their composure towards the end of the first half, then gave it a real go in the second half. After the goal by Aaron Collins, the momentum had swung and even being down to ten men, a fightback was on the cards.
Just when you felt that the game had turned, Harries gets sent off for a high boot just outside the area. You can see why the referee gave it, Harries had completely misjudged the bounce of the ball and the foot was high with the player through on goal. Definitely a yellow, arguably a red.
From that point, the game was lost. Even so, we continued to press forward and create chances.
10 / 10 for effort and sheer refusal to give up. This team certainly fight right to the end.
I will need to see the Finley incident again, it was either an incredibly stupid thing for Finley to do or the linesman bought the theatrics of the Port Vale player. I was sat twenty yards away and did not see it (I was following the ball going forward). I saw the Port Vale player collapsing like he had been shot. If it was an off the ball headbutt, then the sending off was justified.
Either way, Port Vale looked like a decent side but we matched them despite everything that went on. With eleven players, I feel we could have won the game. This season is in danger of becoming one that got away. We are good enough to have a decent crack at promotion, but all these dropped points and “bad luck” are ruining any chance that we have.
It was really good to see the warm reception that Darrell Clarke got. He was treated with the respect that was due.
I have just warmed up and am looking forward to Rochdale on Saturday. We really need to win that one…