All Square On Derby Day At Gresty Road
State of emergency in Crewe was averted and the insufferable Port Vale fans were quietened down as both teams took a share of the spoils in the first 'Derby Day' of the season.
There were no major talking points to be had, no dodgy penalty decisions to witter on about for 18 months on OneValeFan - although both sets of fans felt their players (Miller and Taylor) were too honest inside the box, stinking of hypocrisy from the Vale end - and even Micky Adams was a little less vile than usual in his post-match interview.
Even without the usual derby day drama, the match was quite entertaining. End to end stuff in the first half was followed by a superb show of defending from the Alex in the second half.
For all the attacking football however, genuine chances were few and far between for both sides.
The Alex put Vale on the back foot inside the first couple of minutes, though a fixing ball across the face of goal never found a red shirt. Later on Byron Moore was to force Stuart Tomlinson into a full stretch parry after a shot from distance.
Vale meanwhile were held at bay at the other end, Ben Williamson having the best half-chance with a cheeky low shot at Phillips' near post, one that Phillips cooly pushed out for a corner.
The second half was a much more tense affair, for the Alex at least. A poorly performing midfield, which saw Bell unable to make even the simplest of passes and Murphy running down blind alleys, left Ajay and Miller isolated up front with not enough support forthcoming.
It allowed Vale to really get a grip of the game, at least in midfield, and try and put pressure on the Alex defence. However, where we'd probably have crumbled in previous years it was nice to see Vale's attack not given an inch in attack.
The Vale racked up the corners with only the one of them calling Phillips into action, as the keeper tipped a header over the bar.
With 20 minutes to go, the deadlock was broken and possibly by the only man likely to do it. Byron Moore, who had given Rob Taylor a torrid time all afternoon, was fed by Westy and after a few twists and turns to leave Taylor, for want of a better phrase, on his arse, Moore swept the ball into the bottom left corner from the edge of the box.
With the Red Men failing to settle down quick enough after the jubilation, the lead happened to last less than two minutes and the equaliser came via a long throw to find one of Vale's many, many ex-Alex players.
After a flick on from the throw by Clayton McDonald, a slight lapse in concentration allowed Pope to rise highest and almost bundle the ball over the line.
Again, here was another moment a Alex team of old may have given up completely as the opposition gained momentum but, thankfully (or not), there was little for either side to get excited about for the final 20 minutes.
The game was close to boiling over at times but oddly enough it was inadequate refereeing that kept tempers at bay. Vale's Anthony Griffith will be wondering what he had to do to see red, if he received a 'final warning' once he received it at least three times.
The Alex would also have seen a penalty award had Miller not done so well to stay on his feet after being tripped as he broke through on goal. At the other end, Vale fans were saying similar after Phillips chased down a ball alongside Vale's Rob Taylor.
In truth though, a penalty would have been a harsh way to end it with a draw a fair enough result. The Alex proving, for the first time in a while, it's about keeping them out as much as it's about putting them in at the other end.
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