02 October 2021

Darrell Clarke in celebratory mood as Port Vale snatch last-gasp victory

02 October 2021

Darrell Clarke apologised to opposing manager Kenny Jackett for his celebrations after Port Vale produced a spectacular turnaround to beat Leyton Orient.

An injury-time equaliser and winner – after Orient had taken an 86th-minute lead through Tom James – snatched the points for Vale but Clarke said he felt his side were ‘dominant’ and praised the response from his players, especially those who came off the bench.

Dennis Politic, an 87th-minute substitute, made an immediate impact with the equaliser before Jamie Proctor’s winner but Clarke extended his praise to fellow replacements Jake Taylor and David Amoo.

“What a game,” he said.

“First half I thought we dominated. Kenny is a top manager and I knew there was going to be a reaction at half-time, that’s certainly what we got from Leyton Orient. They came at us and it took us too long to get going in the second half, and then they get a goal from a deflection and a great strike, but then the response from the boys was outstanding.

“The response from all the players was excellent but particularly from those who came on. They changed the game for us, all three in my opinion.

“Dennis will rightly get the plaudits but it’s a squad game. I don’t build 11s, I don’t agree with building 11s. Like I said to the boys in the changing rooms, it’s all of us together.

“I need to apologise. I’ve watched other managers do it but you get caught up in emotion and I’ve apologised to Kenny. But it’s passion, it’s football and I share that with the fans.”

Clarke also explained why the result meant so much to him and revealed: “My wife has had a personal loss this week so my staff have had to hold the fort. The staff have been absolutely outstanding.

“It’s a good result for the club but on Monday morning we have to get back to work.

“We’re on the back of four wins and we know there’s going to be speed bumps in the way, and it could have been quite easily today but I think the group will respond quite well because of the togetherness.”

Vale pledged to investigate after Orient and their keeper Lawrence Vigouroux reported a racist message received from a Vale fan on Instagram.

Orient tweeted “we’re all with you Loz” while Vale’s post read: “We are aware of an abusive message sent privately to a @leytonorientfc player. The club is investigating.”

Clarke made no mention of that incident but praised his side’s fans as a whole.

“I get the passion, they spend their hard-earned money to love the football club,” he said.

“Our fans are fantastic; they’ll stick with us. They see the group developing, I’m sure they’ll get behind us when we do have a setback.”

James Wilson scored an early opener for Vale and Dan Jones’ own goal drew Orient level before the barnstorming finish to the game.

Kenny Jackett has enjoyed a fine start to the season but admitted his side did not cause Vale too many problems and ‘couldn’t hold them’ when it mattered.

“I felt Port Vale are a very good side. There was a lot to handle and first half they deserved their lead, and it could have been more. We didn’t really cause them too many problems in the first half and defensively they gave us a lot of problems.

“Second half I felt we gave it a real good go and got ourselves into a great position, but we’ve got enough people behind the ball on the two cutbacks and Proctor and Politic have finished it well. We needed better shape at that particular time rather than being too defensive.

“They were better than us in the first half and we need to do better than that. They had good players and brought on good players, they’re well balanced and will cause teams problems – especially here.

“We were on top and created a number of chances and got ourselves into good situations and got our noses in front, but we couldn’t hold them. They were very similar goals and perhaps we were over-covering where we’ve given them a free shot inside the box.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox