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Match Reports

REPORT: Port Vale 3-1 Cheltenham

14 October 2017

Cheltenham Town endured a difficult afternoon on the road in Stoke-on-Trent as home hitman Tom Pope ensured Port Vale secured a first home win of the season.

The home side took a half-time lead in the Sky Bet League Two clash courtesy of Pope who struck with a bullet header.

A clinical second half volley from Ben Whitfield and second from Pope - his fifth in two games against the Robins - wrapped up all three points.

Fit-again midfielder Kevin Dawson grabbed an injury time goal from close range, but Cheltenham saw a run of five games undefeated end in the Potteries.

The Robins will now be looking to target back-to-back home games with Grimsby and Lincoln at the LCI Rail Stadium in the coming seven days for an immediate response.

Manager Gary Johnson retained the side that had played in the derby with Swindon last weekend, but welcomed back Dawson and Freddie Hinds to the bench.

To the backdrop of sunny skies, it was the home side that made the early running while the Robins looked to break at pace when possible.

Full back Jordan Cranston started one attack from deep with a neat nutmeg before Brian Graham's through ball saw Mo Eisa tumble on the edge of the box.

Graham was showing some neat touches to try and give Cheltenham an outlet while Vale forward Pope had the game's first real opportunity when he twice had shots blocked in the penalty area.

Midfielder Harry Pell broke the home offside trap down the right wing, but his fizzing ball flew across the six yard box and evaded both Graham and Eisa.

Goalkeeper Scott Flinders had to get down quick to his left to deny a Pope snap shot at the other end at the mid-point of the first half.

But it was to be only a temporary reprieve for the visitors as just minutes later a teasing right wing ball by James Gibbons was met by Pope who powered a header into the right corner of the net.

Vale were inches from doubling that lead when Harness got a shot off, after a scramble in the box, and the deflection beat Flinders but ran wide of the post.

Eisa looked to inject life into the Robins as he drove into the penalty area to win a corner. But Joe Morrell's deep ball was smashed over the bar at the back post by Kyle Storer.

Instead it was Pope who could have grabbed another just before the interval when a shot from Dave Worrall ballooned kindly into his path, but he drilled his shot wide.

Cheltenham made a double half-time change to spark a second half comeback, with Dawson and Danny Wright on for Storer and Graham.

It looked set to pay dividends only for Eisa to be denied by a brilliant point blank save from home stopper Kelle Roos, after Dawson, Sellars and Wright had combined to win a free kick.

The Robins suddenly looked dangerous with Wright glancing a corner wide of the target before nearly connecting with another tempting ball back in from Cranston.

But then, against the run of play, the home side doubled their lead when the ball fell to Whitfied who hit a crunching volley from the edge of the box into the far corner.

Johnson made his final change, as Hinds was introduced, and he nearly had an immediate impression when his angled shot rattled the bar, although the offside flag would have denied him.

However, with Cheltenham committing men upfield, the hosts struck for a third time when Pope stole the ball on the edge of the box and poked it past the onrushing Flinders and then into an empty net.

Dawson struck a late consoltion for the Robins when he smashed in a close range effort, after Hinds and Carl Winchester had been denied.

CHELTENHAM TOWN: Flinders; Cranston, Grimes, Moore, Winchester, Pell, Morrell, Storer (Dawson 45), Sellars (Hinds 69), Eisa, Graham (Wright 45). Subs not used: Flatt (Gk), Atangana, O’Shaughnessy, Boyle.

PORT VALE: Roos, Denton (Middleton 45), Smith, Anderson, Gunning, Gibbons, Worrall, Pugh, Whitfield (Turner 88), Harness (Barnett 61), Pope. Subs not used: Boot, Kay, Boot, Tonge.

REFEREE: Scott Oldham
ATTENDANCE: 4,277 (266 from Cheltenham)

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