26 March 2022

Andy Crosby relishing season run-in after Port Vale prove too strong for Sutton

26 March 2022

Andy Crosby said he was relishing the League Two season run-in after Port Vale climbed into the play-off places with a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Sutton.

Vale took the points to move into fourth, three points off the automatic places, thanks to first-half goals from James Wilson and Jamie Proctor.

And Crosby, taking the reins with manager Darrell Clarke away on compassionate leave, was full of praise for the team, who have lost just once in 15 games.

“I’m delighted with the start we made,” he said. “It’s good to get a clean sheet and the lads will now get a couple of days off to recover and reflect on where we’re at before we attack the rest of the games coming up.

“It’s always nice to get in front early, it settles everyone down and gives the crowd impetus, and they were fantastic today, they created a really good atmosphere.

“But it’s a credit to all the players that I’ve not changed the team too much in the last four or five games. I just felt we had the momentum, we’ve got the belief in ourselves and what we’re doing. They’ve left everything out on the pitch, as they do every week, so every credit to them.

“We made an electric start, we said that we had to start fast and we got on the front foot and scored two early goals. The game became a little bit scrappy for the rest of the first half and they had a little spell.

“But we knew what we had to do today, we had to do all the basics to a really high level when out of possession, we had to be ultra-competitive without being silly and giving free-kicks away, we had to win duels, run after people, get blocks in and stop balls coming into our box. We did a manful job of that and when we got the ball we had to play our game and impose ourselves on them or they’d dominate the game.”

Wilson bundled over a slightly fortuitous opening goal after seven minutes, while Proctor’s strike, by stark contrast, was a stunning scissor-kick that crashed into the top corner.

And Crosby hailed the striker, who managed to shake off an injury to feature in the game at all.

“Proc was a doubt going into the game but it was an incredible performance from him, putting his body through that again and taking the battering he does,” he added.

“He brings so much to the team so I’m delighted he’s got a goal as well because, from a centre-forward’s point of view, it’s great doing all that work but they thrive on goals.”

Sutton boss Matt Gray was left to rue his side’s sorry start but, ahead of their trip to Wembley to face Rotherham in the Papa John’s Trophy final next weekend, he felt they had rallied enough to give Vale a scare or two.

“I’m not happy, I’m very frustrated with the opening stages of the game,” he said.

“It was a start that was a little bit uncharacteristic from us, we found ourselves a goal down early on and then conceded the second which was a great finish and we found ourselves two goals down.

“But we worked hard to get ourselves back in the game and we certainly had chances late in the first half – getting one of those would have been lovely – and we had chances in the second half as well, one or two going over the bar and Joe Kizzi hitting the bar.

“If one of those had gone in it would have been a different game, for sure. We could have maybe got something out of it but that start to the game has cost us.

“I think we had moments in the second half to get that goal back and if we could have got one back, because 2-0 is a tricky scoreline, it would certainly have asked them a question and given us a bit of belief to try to get a point out of the game, but unfortunately we couldn’t find the back of the net in those moments.”

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