THE Blues had two men sent off and five booked as they crashed to defeat in a storm of controversy at Vale Park tonight.
An FA fine is likely to be heading Chester’s way as punishment for their indiscipline, although it has to be said that referee Andy Hall was often too eager to reach for his book. Laurence Wilson and Glenn Rule were the Chester players who saw red on a night Mark Wright and his team will very definitely want to forget.
City were the dominant force in the first half but failed to convert their superiority into goals. Vale turned the game on its head after the restart and, as Chester pressed the self-destruct button, they cashed in and ran out easy winners.
Blues boss Wright made one change to the side which drew 1-1 at Lincoln on Saturday. With Damien Mozika ruled out with a hamstring injury picked up at Sincil Bank, Wilson was handed an instant recall after serving a one-match ban.
Blues forward Kevin Ellison had the game’s first shot in anger on six minutes. He collected a square pass from Richie Partridge and drove a fierce left-footed shot just past the post.
The Blues came even closer to breaking the deadlock soon after. Mark Hughes played Partridge into space and the little winger was unlucky to see his clever chip bounce off the top of the crossbar.
As the rain swept in across Vale Park, Chester continued to enjoy the better of the play. A nervy header by Vale defender Gareth Owen on 33 minutes was almost punished by Ryan Lowe, whose instinctive volley flashed wide of goal from a tight angle.
As the half-time whistle blew, loud boos from the home fans rang out from the terraces. The only disappointment for Chester was that they hadn’t turned their dominance into goals.
Predictably, the hosts emerged for the second half with more fire in their bellies. They almost took the lead on 52 minutes when Anthony Griffiths’ cross from the right found Simon Richman, whose close-range header was helped over the bar by John Danby.
On 59 minutes, Vale capitalised on some slack defending to go 1-0 up. After Kevin Roberts failed to clear, Danny Glover barged his way into the area and prodded the ball past Danby.
For the first time all evening, the visitors were reeling. They almost went 2-0 down on 63 minutes when Glover seized on a lose pass in midfield by Anthony Barry. The Vale striker raced through on goal but shot wide of the target from a good position.
Moments later, a foul by Tony Dinning saw him become the fifth Chester player to pick up a yellow card. He was almost immediately replaced by Jay Harris.
City’s chances of getting back in the game were ruined by a two-minute spell of madness. Firstly, Wilson was shown a red card for a wild challenge on Steve Thompson on 70 minutes. Two minutes later, Rule followed the defender down the tunnel after he picked up his second yellow card of the night following a desperately late challenge on the elusive Glover.
It hardly came as any surprise when Vale doubled their lead 16 minutes from time. Glover took advantage of the gaps in City’s rearguard with a raid down the right flank. The ball eventually found its way to the far post, where sub Robert Taylor blasted home from six yards.
A night of misery was capped off for Chester when Vale sub James Lawrie curled home a 20-yarder to make it 3-0 two minutes from full-time.
Port Vale: Anyon, Griffith, Collins, Owen, Edwards, Richman, Brammer (Davidson 65), Brown, Howland (Taylor 46), Glover, Thompson (Lawrie 74). Subs: Martin, Prosser. Booked: Howland. Goals: Glover 59, Taylor 74, Lawrie 88.
Chester: Danby, Rule, Roberts, Linwood, Wilson, Partridge (Rutherford 79), Hughes (Owen 86), Barry, Dinning (Harris 65), Ellison, Lowe. Subs: Jones, C Rawlinson. Booked: Rule, Roberts, Barry, Linwood, Dinning. Sent off: Wilson, Rule.
Referee: Andy Hall (West Midlands).
Attendance: 4,448 (262 away).