Port Vale 0 : 2 BWFC
For the last away leg of our Grand Promotion tour, we entrusted our travel arrangements to National Rail and a variety of local taxis. On our arrival at Stoke station, we were met by friendly police, kindly acting as tourist guides and directing fans to suitable pre-match watering holes. The excitement was in the air as the Titanic Ales went down well and we discussed all the possible permutation of results. If we won and Fleetwood didn’t, then we would be up. If we lost and the others won, it would be out of our hands. We had much to chew on over a mixed grill lunch in the Wheatsheaf.
Then it was a taxi to Vale Park in Burslem to face Port Vale, the only team in the league not named after an area. We packed the Hamil Road end and the place was buzzing with the Wanderers choir in full voice, well before kick-off. At least half the crowd was from Bolton. Memories of ‘73 when we last packed this ground came flooding back. Peter Nicholson and John Byrom scored that day, who would be the heroes today? News filtered through the social media that the Goal Machine, Gary Madine was back. Phil Parkinson moved Derik Osede to the bench to make way for the big fella. It was the lift we needed. Everybody was watching this game with an ear on the Gillingham-Fleetwood match. Gillingham’s first goal was cheered like one of our own. We were in control in a first half of worryingly few chances. But come the second half and up stepped David Wheater to nod us in front, sparking off a pitch invasion and a 10-minute delay. The Whites were going up as news came through of Gillingham’s equaliser. Gary Madine fired one in to put the match beyond doubt. All we could do was wait for the final result from Gillingham and when it came, Fleetwood’s last gasp winner means that it’s all on the last match next Sunday.
We did what we had to do today and fair do’s to Fleetwood, so did they. The maths are simple. Avoid defeat and we are up. We are so close now, 90 minutes away from ending our short stay in League 1. It’s going be a long week for the fans in the build up to what should be our promotion party. Be there.