Peterborough United win ugly at Port Vale as Ephron Mason-Clark continues his love affair with Vale Park

Josh Knight celebrates the Posh at Port Vale with scorer Ephron Mason-Clark. Photo: Joe Dent/ Knight celebrates the Posh at Port Vale with scorer Ephron Mason-Clark. Photo: Joe Dent/
Josh Knight celebrates the Posh at Port Vale with scorer Ephron Mason-Clark. Photo: Joe Dent/
It was far from pretty, but Peterborough United survived a long night under the lights to claim three points from a 1-0 win at Port Vale on Tuesday.

Ephron Mason-Clark’s early goal – and a quite brilliant goal-line save from man-of-the-match Ronnie Edwards – proved decisive in a game that lasted almost 112 minutes in total, thanks to a collection of injuries and 12 substitutions rather than professional time-wasting. It was a third goal in two games at this venue for the forward.

Posh rarely got close to playing at full potential, but they scrapped and battled against a spirited home side to keep a clean sheet despite the ball spending long periods in their half.

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Posh were poor going forward and yet created the better chances. They should have scored either side of the interval, but that would have been harsh on the home side who are in an awful run of form. It’s now five games without a goal and only one point gained in that time

Hector Kyprianou of Peterborough United challenges for the ball against Port Vale. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.comHector Kyprianou of Peterborough United challenges for the ball against Port Vale. Photo: Joe Dent/
Hector Kyprianou of Peterborough United challenges for the ball against Port Vale. Photo: Joe Dent/

Posh sprang a major surprise at 6.45pm when it was revealed young Ricky-Jade Jones was playing as a centre forward with Jonson Clarke-Harris dropped to the substitutes’ bench. It was a clear nod to the future, although the form of Clarke-Harris hasn’t been great of late and pace was expected to be a potent weapon on the largest playing surface in the division.

Kwame Poku also returned in place of David Ajiboye who was also relegated to the bench. Manchester City loanee Jadel Katongo returned to the matchday squad with Jacob Wakeling dropping out.

Posh were protecting a seven-game unbeaten run in the division, but draws had been too common. Vale would presumably have been happy to score a goal never mind win a game. It explained the recruitment of power striker Uche Ikpeazu earlier in the day.

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The game started at a snail’s pace with Vale happy to let Posh have the ball, while Darren Ferguson’s side were happy to have it of course.

They were faced with 11 men behind the ball, but stayed patient and were rewarded in the 14th minute when an excellent right wing cross from Poku was headed in from close range by Mason-Clarke when it looked like goalkeeper Connor Ripley had smothered the opportunity, so much so that it took the visiting fans at the other end of the ground some time to realise a goal had been scored.

But, instead of pressing home their advantage against a team who must be lacking confidence, Posh stopped playing. Vale became more aggressive and they pushed Posh back.

Harrison Burrows delivered a fine block to thwart Ethan Chislett after a decent home move and a minute later there were loud appeals for a Vale penalty when Ben Garrity beat Posh ‘keeper Nicholas Bilokapic to a Peter Kioso backpass and tumbled to the floor. Referee Marc Edwards cautioned the striker for a dive, and video replays suggested he was right.

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Vale then sneaked away down the right, but a cutback was sent over the crossbar by Ryan Loft and Bilokapic turned a 20-yarder from Funso Ojo behind for a corner.

Posh survived and broke out in the first minute of added time to create a great chance that was spurned. Two chances actually as Poku found Joel Randall with a neat pass, but his shot was well saved by Ripley who sprang back up to keep out a fierce follow-up from Jones.

Ten minutes of added time were played because of a concussion injury to Archie Collins and a hamstring injury to Vale defender Kofi Balmer. Collins had earlier picked up a caution which would have seen him suspended for Saturday’s trip to Blackpool anyway.

Surprisingly on-loan centre-back Jadel Katongo was sent on from the bench to replace Collins rather than natural midfielder Ryan De Havilland.

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The hosts sent on man mountain Ikpeazu at the break. They’d made two more subs within 10 minutes with both wing-backs forced off.

Posh were much brighter at the start of the half. Burrows nipped in down the left, but his cross was cut out. A much better opportunity arrived five minutes later when quick passing freed Randall who chose to cross rather than shoot and the chance was gone.

Randall then sent Poku clear, but his touch was poor and his shot weak enabling Ripley to save.

Poku was soon withdrawn in favour of Ajiboye before Jones, for some reason, decided to shoot from 45 yards rather than play the substitute in.

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You feared Posh would regret those misses either side of half-time and Vale did start to dominate again.

Substitute James Plant looked certain to equalise on 68 minutes when dumping Kioso on his backside and curling past Bilokapic, but Ronnie Edwards appeared from nowhere to make a great block on the line.

Posh were struggling to get out again. Substitutions were made, but made little difference until Mason-Clark released replacement Zak Sturge. His speed was impressive, but he hesitated when clear and didn’t even get a shot away.

Randal then intercepted a sloppy pass from Ripley, but the ‘keeper recovered to save.

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Vale tested Bilokapic from distance, but his handling was sound. He also kicked well as he answered criticisms from the weekend.

Another 10 minutes were added on at the end of the second-half, and almost 12 were played, but Posh managed this period pretty well to make it eight League One games without defeat.

They’ll need to be better at Blackpool on Saturday though.

Posh: Nicholas Bilokapic, Harrison Burrows (sub Jonson Clarke-Harris, 83 mins), Ronnie Edwards, Josh Knight, Peter Kioso (sub Romoney Crichlow, 83 mins), Hector Kyprianou, Archie Collins (sub Jadel Katongo, 41 mins), Joel Randall (sub Ryan De Havilland, 76 mins), Ephron Mason-Clark, Kwame Poku (sub David Ajiboye, 62 mins), Ricky Jade-Jones (sub Zak Sturge 76 mins).

Unused subs: Fynn Talley.

Port Vale: Connor Ripley, Kofi Balmer (sub Jesse Debrah, 45 + 7 mins), Nathan Smith, Mitch Clark (sub James Plant 54 mins), Ben Garrity, Ethan Chislett (sub Josh Thomas, 54 mins), Funso Ojo, Jason Lowe, Ollie Arblaster (sub Alfie Devine, 70 mins), Gavin Massey (sub Tom Sang, 70 mins), Ryan Loft

Unused subs: Jayson Leutwiler.

Goal: Posh – Mason-Clark (14 mins).

Cautions: Posh – Collins (foul), Poku (foul), Kioso (foul), Kyprianou (foul), Crichlow (delaying the restart).

Port Vale – Garrity (simulation).

Referee: Marc Edwards 5.

Attendance: 5,299 (376 Posh),