No panic, but lessons to be learned from home defeat

Well, if you’re going to get beat it’s best to get beat by the team at the top rather than the bottom of the division.

There’s no shame in losing to a Gillingham side which has promotion written all over it.

The truth is Vale were out-fought and, crucially, out-thought by the visitors and the ever-popular Martin Allen.

What a shame we gave our worst performance of the season in front of a home gate of almost 7,000.

Thankfully, we already had enough points on the board and our goal difference was so good that we stayed second in the table – despite the result.

The most important thing for me is how the team bounces back from its first poor showing of the season.

I actually have every confidence that we will go to Bradford tomorrow and get a result.

But I wonder what we learned from the defeat?

Hopefully, the coaching staff realised that we don’t have the quickest defence – something which was laid bare by the visitors’ pacy attack.

I’m loathed to criticise our back four who, up to last Saturday, had done a decent enough job.

But one clean sheet this season simply isn’t good enough – even if some of the goals have been conceded after a game has effectively been won.

We clearly struggle against teams who do their homework and realise that our centre halves, in particular, ain’t fleet-footed.

I also wonder what our Plan B is when defences double up on our flying wingers and cut off the service to the Pontiff.

But, for me, our Achilles heel is in the centre of midfield where the pairing of Shuker and Morsy sometimes looks lightweight and overwhelmed.

This season’s square peg in a round hole is Mr Versatile himself, Doug Loft, who is doing a perfectly good job at left back.

The trouble is that we really miss him in the middle – for his work-rate, his tackling, his energy and his passing (not to mention the goals he might score).

I’m a firm believer in playing people in their best positions.

Take Louis Dodds, for example, who is reaping the rewards of a run in the team in his favoured spot.

If it was me, I’d stick Lofty back midfield and play Rob Taylor at left back.

Whatever the gaffer decides to do it is important that we keep last weekend’s result in perspective.

It has been a very good start to the season and I can say with some confidence we won’t come up against a better team than Gillingham in this league.

Read my Port Vale articles every Friday during the season in The Sentinel

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