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Andy Crosby calls for response after Port Vale drop out of promotion places

Andy Crosby saw Port Vale slip to a potentially costly defeat (Barrington Coombs/PA)
Andy Crosby saw Port Vale slip to a potentially costly defeat (Barrington Coombs/PA)

Port Vale must embrace being the hunter rather than the hunted after dropping out of the League Two automatic promotion places with a 2-0 defeat at Walsall, says interim boss Andy Crosby.

Sam Perry’s glancing header and Emmanuel Osadebe’s stoppage-time strike pushed Vale down to fourth, a point behind Northampton with just two games remaining.

Fellow promotion hopefuls Mansfield and Sutton also have a game in hand on Vale, who do not play again for nine days until hosting Newport on Monday, May 2.

Crosby remains in charge as boss Darrell Clarke manages his return from compassionate leave and he was frustrated they let their destiny slip out of their own hands.

“We’ve lost a game because we didn’t produce enough in the final third and we haven’t defended our box well enough,” he said.

“We are now not in charge of automatic promotion but we’ve got to keep thinking about what we can do to finish the season really strongly.

“We’ve overcome many hurdles this season and this is another – we’ve lost a couple of games on the spin so we have to respond the right way.

“The level of performance we’ve had, the run of form we’ve been on, the points we’ve collected – we’ve proved we are a really good team but the stakes get higher at the end of the season.

“Successful individuals, successful teams, they handle the situation. Today we haven’t but we’ve got the chance to respond.

“Some teams will now play two games before we play again and the league table will look totally different but all we can do is think about ourselves.”

Vale only really troubled Saddlers keeper Carl Rushworth with two free-kicks from James Wilson and Chris Hussey as Walsall recorded a fifth win in six home games under boss Michael Flynn.

“The work rate was superb, the way we worked and performed, it was pleasing to see,” Flynn said.

“I’ve always said there’s ways to win games and when they put effort and commitment in we are a tough, tough team to beat.

“They showed a good amount of character today. It was a hard-fought victory and they are the pleasing ones.

“I’ve learned they are very inconsistent and that frustrates the life out of me because there is a good team there but they can’t keep going one win, two losses, two wins, three losses.

“It’s been happening all season and it’s frustrating because there is a better team there.

“If people beat us here, I want them to come here and really earn the right for their three points – and only one team have done that so far. Five wins out of six at home, that is promotion form.”