FOREST GREEN 1
PORT VALE 3
Defiant Forest Green boss Ian Burchnall wants the Forest Green boo-boys to get behind his struggling side.
Burchnall certainly felt the fans’ angst towards him and his struggling outfit who collapsed to their fourth consecutive league one defeat at home to Port Vale on new year’s day.
In a helter-skelter match, Port Vale came from a goal down to win 3-1.
Kyle McAllister’s second-minute strike had put Rovers in front but Mipo Odubeko levelled on 86 minutes before Vale won it in stoppage time thanks to Ellis Harrison’s penalty and Dennis Politic’s long-range effort.
Burchnall admitted hearing a section of the fans calling for his head is tough to take: “My wife and kids were here last week and and they were upset when they heard the calls – it’s not nice and it isn’t helping the players one bit,quite frankly we need as much help as we can and that comes from the stands. I want the fans with us and put performances on the pitch that will hopefully turn things around.
“We were the better of the team in the first half and we had two or three good chances and should be more clinical. Vale are a good side but I was disappointed that we conceded so late.
“The injury to their player was unfortunate in a good moment for us. The ref has to do it early and he didn’t and has apologised for halting the play when we were in a good position.”
“It was a very strange game. In the first half we were the far superior team, there is absolutely no question about that.
“We should really go in more than 1-0 up, we had so many big chances. It is only 1-0 and I think that is a bit unfortunate but at the same time I thought we had control of the game.
“We knew in the second half that Port Vale would have to throw everything at us, take big risks and play with more risk. I thought they had a lot of the ball and had some territory but they didn’t really create too many opportunities. I don’t remember Luke (McGee) making many big saves.
“I think the break in play for the injury just kind of disrupts the balance of the game a little bit and we just struggled to come back from that.
“I think it was 100 per cent a clear foul on Dom Bernard before the first goal. I don’t know why the linesman hasn’t flagged for that. That is disappointing but we don’t seem to get those little margins that we need.
“Five minutes before that when ‘Marchy’ (Josh March) is through on goal, they blow up for an injury. They are the margins. We are through on goal, about to score and we get pulled back. Five minutes later, there is a foul on Dom Bernard not given and it is 1-1.
“At that point, when you are in the position we are in, we look vulnerable. We lacked that little bit of killer instinct and that confidence, that is natural when you are down there.
“It could have gone either way. Matty Stevens had a header just before they got the penalty. It is small margins and of course the penalty on 98 minutes is a killer.”
Meanwhile, Port Vale boss Darrell Clarke toasted his side’s winning start to the new year.
“It’s a great start to the new year,” purred Clarke. “My only frustration was that we gave a team low in confidence a goal start.
“That’s thirteen points we’ve taken after going behind this season which shows the mentality of the group is very good, very strong.
“I was very disappointed with the start, but we controlled large parts of the game and once we got back in it I thought we could go on and win it and“I thought the shape of the team was good.”
Vale substitute Lewis Cass was forced off with a head injury, but Clarke gave him a clean bill of health, adding: “Fortunately he’s alright and walking about. It probably just knocked some sense into him.”
Earlier, in a breathless game, McAllister’s first ever goal for Rovers handed Burhnall’s side the lead inside two minutes.
The game took a momentous change of direction as the match was turned on its head on 70 minutes. Play was halted for more than eight minutes – Vale’s Lewis Cass was stretchered off following an innocuous looking head injury. The delay suited Port Vale as Odubeko pounced unmarked to grab parity with four minutes of normal time to go.
With 14 minutes of added time due to Cass’s head injury, it was Vale who captalised on 98 minutes with Harrison sending Luke McGee the wrong way from the penalty spot after Regan Hendry had upended Tom Pett in the box.
Rovers wretched start to the new year was compounded as Vale substitute Politic planted a sumptuous 112th minute strike beyond McGee to send Forest Green to their fourth consecutive league defeat.
Forest Green Rovers: McGee, O’Keeffe, Cargill, Casey, Godwin-Malife, McGeough, Stevenson, Hendry, March, Peart-Harris, McAllister
Subs: Thomas, Bernard, Stevens, Little, Boyes, Matt, Bunker
Port Vale: Stevens, Hall, Smith, Forrester, Holden, Garrity, Pett, Benning, Massey, Harrison, Butterworth
Subs: Stone, Cass, Walker, Conlon, Ojo, Odubeko, Politic