Port Vale still in relegation trouble after defeat to Exeter City

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Port Vale’s winless run extended to 13 games as Exeter won 1-0 at Vale Park to deepen relegation fears. 

Following their 2nd half comeback against Stevenage, manager Neil Aspin made two changes to his starting line-up. At the back Kyle Howkens replaced Joe Davis and up front Tyrone Barnett replaced Marcus Harness.

The visitors meanwhile made four changes to the side that disappointingly lost to Morecambe at the weekend.

Even early on the tension was clear inside a sparsely populated Vale Park, as those hardy few in attendance appeared all too quick to get on the home team’s back.

Despite looking less comfortable on the ball than the Grecians, Vale consistently looked dangerous with their direct, physical approach. Crosses rained down on Pym in the Exeter goal as the home crowd tried to get behind their struggling team.

Vale captain Danny Pugh came close with a shot, but it was Exeter who took the lead in the 24th minute when Jordan Storey, given the space of Staffordshire, nudged home from a cross.

The hosts, whose character is never in doubt, responded well to the early setback, with the recalled Tyrone Barnett going agonisingly close on two occasions.

As the first period wore on, Vale continued to create and subsequently spurn a number of chances. David Worrall, a constant menace in the first half laid on numerous chances for his colleagues, only to see them all wasted.

The second half began in much the same fashion as the first ended, with Vale monopolising the possession and chances. Just before the hour mark the Valiants were again cruelly denied a goal, this time a Charlie Raglan header expertly cleared from under the Exeter crossbar.

To a casual onlooker it would be difficult to pick the playoff chasing team as Vale continuously peppered the visitors goal. The impressive Pym in the Exeter goal making save after save as the hosts pushed for an equaliser.

But as the minutes ticked away, the frustrations grew. Whether it was a poor final ball or a loose touch, the ball just wouldn’t fall for Vale and the travelling contingent from Devon grew in confidence.

The final whistle was greeted with widespread boos.

A side bereft of confidence, a seemingly apathetic fan-base, it’s now over a quarter of a season since Vale tasted victory.

Relegation is still a distinct possibility.

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